Journal of history of Iran)

Document Type : Research Paper


Within the boundaries of what today is known as Qajar art in Iran, complex experiments linked with the mission of visually representing the king and noble ranks was a significant chapter. These particular series of visual experiments were of special importance during the whole era, however, this did not stop them from being subject to fundamental transformations at the same time. This study presents a genuine narrative on this aspect of Qajar visual culture, without breaking its political ties with the historical context from which it has emerged. To that purpose, two historically important set of images from lithographic portraits of Naser al-Din Shah Era in official newspapers of “Dowlat-e Aliyye-ye Iran”(1860-1871) and “Sharaf” (1882-1891) have been investigated and interpreted: First, in relation to codependent technical developments in painting, photography and printing, which laid the ground for the images to be produced at first place and second, from the view point of their very political meaning and cultural importance that makes them a critical turning point in the established tradition of visual representation of power since Fath-Ali Shah Era. Based on this narrative, we may reach an understanding of these portraits as the emerging face of the modern state in Iran at the end of the 19th century; An understanding this might lead, although in small degrees, to an oversight observing the relation between arts and the state in contemporary Iran from a historical point of view.