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Long oval-shaped box with scenes of figures

This long, narrow box has rounded edges. It is painted with a variety of multi-person scenes, each depicting people sitting on the ground and gesturing to each other. The top side of the box has several scenes of a woman in a red dress with a halo. Interspersed among these scenes are oval-shaped portraits of light-skinned women. The entire box is glossy with a yellow tinge. One end of the box has a cutaway portion, creating a cap.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Pen Box with European Women and Other Figures in Landscape
Artists' Tools
Work Type
pen box
c. 1850-1875
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran
Qajar period
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Opaque watercolor, gold-colored pigments, and lacquer on pasteboard
3.5 × 3.8 × 23.4 cm (1 3/8 × 1 1/2 × 9 3/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription:
    یا صاحب الزمان

    O Lord of Time!


Recorded Ownership History
Ezzat-Malek Soudavar, Geneva, Switzerland (by 2014), by descent; to her son Abolala Soudavar, Houston, Texas (2014), gift; to Harvard Art Museums, 2014.

Ezzat-Malek Soudavar (1913-2014) formed this collection over a period of sixty years. She purchased the works of art on the international art market.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of A. Soudavar in memory of his mother Ezzat-Malek Soudavar
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art

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Cover and sliding compartment with rounded ends. The top is decorated in horizontal format with three vignettes of women in European clothing reclining in landscape; the vignettes are separated by two oval medallions containing bust length portraits of European women. In the central vignette, a haloed woman is attended by a female attendant and a winged angel. On the sides, bust-length portraits of women in medallions alternate with pastoral images of women and children, and images of reclining men in Persian dress. The base and sliding compartment are decorated with a gold arabesque on a red background.

Publication History

  • Massumeh Farhad and Mary McWilliams, ed., A Collector’s Passion: Ezzat-Malek Soudavar and Persian Lacquer, Harvard Art Museums and Freer/Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian Institution (Cambridge, MA/Washington, D.C., 2017), p. 137, cat. 115

Verification Level

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at