Nafisi Family Photograph Albums of Qajar Iran

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At A Glance

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  • Creator

    Abdullah Mirza Qajar, 1850-1909
  • Dates

  • Physical Description

    2 Photograph albums (black and white photographic prints)
  • Collection ID


  • Scope and Contents

    Two albums: Album No. 1 contains 65 nineteenth century albumen photographs of medium size, the largest measuring 16.4 x 23.5 cm. Album No. 2 contains 44 albumen photographs of larger size, the largest measuring 20.9 x 26.6 cm. The photographs appear to be largely of the same vintage, possibly as early as the 1860s, although some may date ten years later. Subject range includes landscapes, palaces, ethnic groups and individual portraits. The smaller album is bound in green tinted leather; the larger is bound in bright green velvet.
  • Biographical / Historical

    Abdullah Mirza Qajar was the son of Jahangir Mirza Qajar. He was born in 1266 lunar calendar year (1850 CE). He had 2 brothers and 3 sisters. He was the father of four children: three daughters and one son. Abdullah studied at Dar-ol-Fonoon, a polytechnic school, during the reign of Nasereddin Shah. He then went on to study in Paris around 1295 lunar year (1878 CE). After one and a half years in Paris, he went on to Vienna and was shortly sent to study in Salzburg. He was in Salzburg for just over three years. During these years, he described in his writings about the techniques he learned. These included zincography, phototypy, photolithography and galvanoplastic. After these studies, he returned to Vienna and began his journey back to Tehran. Initially upon his return, he worked on printing maps of Ahvaz and other towns, which he presented to the court. His business in the printing field was not very successful, thus he focused his efforts on photography. His first works as photographer in the Qajar court date back to 1300 lunar year (1883 CE). He went on assignment to Khorasan, then in 1304 lunar (1887 CE) to Rey and Qom to photograph new buildings there. He also had assignments in many other areas, such as Tabriz, Kermanshah, Mashad and Kashan. During his years as court photographer, he also continued taking pictures at Dar-ol-Fonoon, of the students in uniform, and of other subjects. After Nasereddin Shah's death in 1314 lunar (1897 CE), he did not receive many orders and felt disappointed. Although his business suffered, he continued to work under Mozaffareddin Shah, who was quite fond of Abdullah. Mozaffareddin Shah took Abdullah as special photographer to Europe with him in 1317 and 1320 lunar year (1900 CE and 1903 CE). Abdullah Mirza was often written about during his time as a very well educated and well accomplished photographer. He died in 1326 lunar year(1909 CE).
  • Local Numbers

    FSA A2010.05
  • Photographer

    Abdullah Mirza Qajar, 1850-1909
  • Place

    Tehran (Iran)
  • Topic

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    Nafisi Family Photograph Albums of Qajar Iran
  • Custodial History

    Gift of Azar Nafisi in honor of Massumeh Farhad, 2010
  • Archival Repository

    Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
  • Type

    Collection descriptions
    Archival materials
    Photograph albums
    Photographic prints
  • Citation

    Nafisi Family Photograph Albums of Qajar Iran. FSA.A2010.05. National Museum of Asian Art Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Gift of Azar Nafisi in honor of Massumeh Farhad, 2010.
  • Arrangement

    Two separate albums.
  • Rights

    Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository.
  • Genre/Form

    Photograph albums -- 19th century
    Photographic prints
    Photographs -- 1850-1900
  • Restrictions

    Collection is open for research.

Repository Contact

Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
National Museum of Asian Art Archives
Washington, D.C. 20013