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Iran in Photographs


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The art of photography was introduced to Iran more than 150 years ago. Browse this site to view hundreds of photographs taken in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, from distinguished images of the Qajar royal family and expansive views of Persepolis to glimpses of everyday in life on the streets of Tehran. Explore the use of glass-plate negatives in early photography, research archival records, learn about collectors, and take an intimate look at life in Iran a century ago.

The Archives of the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery contain more than 1,100 original prints and glass-plate negatives by Antonin Sevruguin and other photographers. A grant from the Parsa Foundation funded the digitization and cataloging of the entire Freer and Sackler collection, the largest public collection of Sevruguin’s photographs outside of Iran. These prints and plates, assembled from the donated holdings of avid collectors and historians, form the core of a rapidly growing collection of early photography of Iran and establish the Freer and Sackler Archives as a leading center for its study.

If you have individual images or albums of photographs taken in Iran and other Near Eastern countries before 1950, please consider donating them to the Freer and Sackler Archives. Contact 202.633.0533 or AVRreference@si.edu for more information.