top of lid Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Mirror Case with Scenes of a Baby Boy's Birth and Circumcision
Work Type
mirror case
c. 1830-1850
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran
Qajar period
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Opaque watercolor, gold-colored pigments, and lacquer on pasteboard
frame: 23.8 × 15.3 × 1.6 cm (9 3/8 × 6 × 5/8 in.)
lid: 20.9 × 12.6 × 0.4 cm (8 1/4 × 4 15/16 × 3/16 in.)
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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Rectangular mirror case with fitted lid. This mirror case is decorated with figural scenes celebrating the birth and circumcision of a baby boy. All of the vignettes take place on a well appointed porch with red drapery and a distant view of trees. On one side of the lid, a young woman has just given birth to a tiny baby. She is attended by a midwife, while attendants wrap the afterbirth. On the other side of the lid, a servant brings melon to two women who are seated on either side of the naked, smiling baby. On the back of the case is a circumcision scene.
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. 60-61, ill.; p. 109, cat. 35

David Roxburgh and Mary McWilliams, ed., Technologies of the Image: Art in 19th-Century Iran, exh. cat., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2017), p. 24, detail; p. 42, fig. 32; pp. 150-151, cat. 54

Exhibition History

32Q: 3620 University Study Gallery, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 08/31/2019 - 01/08/2020

Technologies of the Image: Art in 19th-Century Iran, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 08/26/2017 - 01/07/2018

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