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Prince Yahya

Arts of the Islamic World

Prince Yahya, born in 1817, was the forty-third son of the Qajar ruler Fath cAli Shah (r. 1798–1834). A minor political figure in comparison with his powerful older half brothers, Prince Yahya at the age of five was appointed governor of Gilan, where he was assisted by Muctamid al-Dawla, who is portrayed on a lacquer mirror case displayed nearby. The prince’s name and title are inscribed in a cartouche, or ornamental frame for inscriptions, at the upper left. He wears the crown and jeweled ornaments appropriate to his rank, including the Order of the Lion and Sun appearing in a medallion on his chest. On the basis of the depiction of Prince Yahya as a beardless youth of fifteen or twenty with rosy cheeks, the painting may be dated to the 1830s.

Life-size paintings of the Qajar period were originally conceived as components of larger architectural decorative programs, so it is likely that such a work would have been situated within a niche in a royal palace or pavilion. In both patterning and delicate facial features, the painting closely resembles portraits assigned to the court painter Muhammad Hasan.
MEDIUM Oil on canvas
  • Place Made: Iran
  • DATES ca. 1830s
    DYNASTY Qajar
    PERIOD Qajar Period
    DIMENSIONS 67 x 35 in. (170.2 x 88.9 cm)  (show scale)
    INSCRIPTIONS Inscription in Persian nasta'liq script within cartouche, upper left corner: "Shahzadeh Navvab Yahya Mirza" (His Highness Prince Yahya)"
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles K. Wilkinson
    RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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    CAPTION Muhammad Hasan (Persian, active 1808-1840). Prince Yahya, ca. 1830s. Oil on canvas, 67 x 35 in. (170.2 x 88.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles K. Wilkinson, 72.26.5
    IMAGE overall, 72.26.5_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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