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Mirror Case

Illustrating the experimental quality and eclecticism of later Qajar art, this mirror case displays bird-and-flower imagery on the front and back surfaces and a hybrid design of figures in European dress of various historical periods on the inner surface. The eight figures in the composition inside are grouped together without scale or thematic connection against a background of lakes and waterfalls. The extensive use of modeling in the treatment of the garments of the figures as well as in the bird-and-flower design on the front surface contributes to the European flavor of this work.

Catalogue Description:
Octagon lacquered mirror case and mirror consisting of a frame for the mirror and hinged cover. The case is made of lacquered pasteboard with opaque watercolor, gilt pigment, and crushed metallic pigment, and the mirror is edged in strips of leather. The exterior is rendered in a variation on the rose and nightingale theme, gracefully embellished with the image of a nightingale in an airy rose design on a deep brown ground speckled with gold. The exterior edges of the cover are decorated with minute, repeated stylized leaf and flower patterns in gilt pigment on red and black grounds. The interior of the case depicts an eclectic group of eight Western-inspired figures, both religious and secular, displaying a combination of European and Persian costumes ranging from the 17th through early 19th centuries and set against a lush, green landscape of waterfalls, lakes, a mountain range, and a tree. The figures are grouped without scale or thematic connection. The juxtaposition of traditional flowers and birds and Western-derived themes reflects the tendency of blending post-Renaissance European artistic styles with native Persian idioms during the later Qajar period in Iran. The extensive use of modeling in the treatment of the garments of the figures as well as in the bird-and-flower design on the front surface contribute to the European flavor of this work.


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