Incorrect Username, Email, or Password
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 often features a nude long-haired woman, her lower half wrapped in red fabric. 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
Najaf `Ali
Pen Box with Bathing and Reclining European Women
Artists' Tools
Work Type
pen box
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran, Isfahan
Qajar period
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Opaque watercolor, gold-colored pigments, and lacquer on pasteboard
4 × 4.3 × 24.3 cm (1 9/16 × 1 11/16 × 9 9/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription:

    يا شاه نجف۱۲۷۰

    O Lord of Najaf! 1853-54

    Inside cover (maker’s seal):

    صح تراج

    The standard of Taraj


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

The Harvard Art Museums encourage the use of images found on this website for personal, noncommercial use, including educational and scholarly purposes. To request a higher resolution file of this image, please submit an online request.


Cover and sliding compartment with rounded ends. The top is decorated in horizontal format with vignettes of semi-nude European women in landscape, interspersed with two circular medallions with portrait busts of European women. The sides are similarly composed with figural vignettes interspersed with oval medallions with portrait busts of young men and women. The base is painted with grape vines, birds, and animals in gold on a black 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), pp. 42-43, fig. 10; pp. 44-45, fig. 13; p. 136, cat. 112

Exhibition History

  • 32Q: 3620 University Study Gallery, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 08/17/2017 - 01/07/2018

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