Woman Holding a Diadem

Woman Holding a Diadem
(click image to zoom-in)
Painting, Oil and glue colours on canvas, 150x89 cm
Origin: Iran, Mid-19th century, Qajar Dynasty

This is one of the series of full-length paintings showing court beauties, intended for the decoration of the Iranian ruler's palace.

The woman's costume is a good indication of the date this painting was produced. During the rule of Muhammad Shah European culture made even greater inroads into Iran and had a particularly strong effect on fashions. Iranian women began to wear broad skirts recalling European crinolines. Here this kind of skirt is combined with typically Iranian details of court attire: the transparent silk blouse and long-sleeved jacket worn over it. Between shirt and skirt we can see the woman's naked body. Naturally, this frivolous costume was worn only by the women of the harem, who never left the palace. On the woman's head is a diadem with a large aigret. An identical diadem is held in her hands, which are painted red with henna in Oriental tradition.

By the middle of the 19th century Iranian artists had mastered the European painterly techniques. The folds of the luxuriant skirt, for instance, are worked tonally with size colours. The artist used oil only for the details of the patterned edge of the hem, the cuffs of the blouse and the jewels.

Source of entry: acquired from D. K. Petrov, 1928
Exibition: Art and Culture of the Near and Middle East: 3rd - 19th centuries

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