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Two Ladies and a Child Reposing in the Harem

Antoin Sevruguin

Arts of the Islamic World

Armenian and Georgian by birth, Antoin Sevruguin (died 1933) spent most of his adult life as a resident of Iran. This photograph attributed to him offers a look into the harem of the Qajar ruler Nasir al-Din Shah (ruled 1848–1896). If the photograph is indeed Sevruguin's, it would indicate an unprecedented level of access to the private quarters of the ruler's court. Such openness speaks to the great enthusiasm for photography at the time, especially from the king himself. Nasir al-Din was the first Qajar ruler to visit Europe and is credited for introducing many Western ideas and fashions to the Iranian public. The skirt worn by the woman in this photograph, for example, was probably inspired by the ruler's love of the French ballet. The artist approaches his subjects with a sympathetic eye, avoiding an ethnographic voyeurism common in other contemporary Western photographers' interpretations of similar subjects.

MEDIUM Albumen silver photograph
DATES late 19th century
PERIOD Qajar Period
DIMENSIONS 6 3/16 x 8 3/16 in. (15.7 x 20.8 cm)  (show scale)
CREDIT LINE Purchase gift of Leona Soudavar in memory of Ahmad Soudavar
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Antoin Sevruguin. Two Ladies and a Child Reposing in the Harem, late 19th century. Albumen silver photograph, 6 3/16 x 8 3/16 in. (15.7 x 20.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchase gift of Leona Soudavar in memory of Ahmad Soudavar, 1997.3.14 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1997.3.14_IMLS_PS3.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 1997.3.14_IMLS_PS3.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2009
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RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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