As a class, portraits of Persians who travelled to the West during the Safavid and early Qajar period (early 17th-early 19th century) have received little attention. This lecture brings together a set of images — drawings, paintings, etchings, lithographs and even a silhouette — of Persians, done in Boston, Geneva, London, Paris, Prague, Saratoga Springs, St. Petersburg, Vienna and Washington DC, between 1601 and 1842. Some of the subjects were high-ranking individuals who were members of the élite class while others were from modest backgrounds. All were on a mission of one sort or another and portraiture, in the days before photography, commemorated their visits to distant capitals, offering us a rare glimpse at the dress, accoutrements and regalia worn by these visitors to foreign lands. Subjects of fascination for both contemporary artists and a well-informed public, intrigued by all things Persian and able to follow the movements of these travelers in the European and American press, the sitters in these works left an indelible mark in the consciousness of Western observers, only a few of whom ever journeyed themselves to the Land of the Lion and the Sun.
Speaker: Daniel T. Potts, PhD, Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Archeology and History, New York University
Discussant: Layla Diba, PhD, Art Historian. Independent Scholar
Discussant: Willem Floor, PhD, Iran Historian. Independent Scholar