Whether representing a European envoy or a Georgian or an Armenian merchant, this Safavid oil portrait is remarkable for the sensitively rendered figure and the artful blend of Safavid and European aesthetics. Leaning on a walking stick and accompanied by a small white dog, a popular import, the man stands in an empty room with a window opening to a bucolic, receding landscape. From head to toe, he is dressed in the latest Safavid fashion. His fur-trimmed coat recalls the palette and design of the silk fragment on the adjacent wall, and his turban is of the popular checkered cloth seen on figures in other artworks on view. The man’s identity may not be known, but he is clearly comfortable in both the Safavid and European worlds.
Portrait of a Gentleman
Iran, Isfahan, Safavid period, ca. 1650–1675
Oil on canvas
Museum of Islamic Art, Doha