Qajar Art - Iranian Paintings

Since I am after all , half Iranian and have lived in Iran for several years, I thought I share a bit about Iranian paintings.

During the Safavian Era, Iran's culture experienced a period of assimilation and adaptation, as European influences saturated a once-distinct society. The European tradition affected two important aspects of Persian art: subject matter and color tone.

The art works of monarchist Europe were almost uniformly inspired by the prevailing sentiments of the royal court. Thus, a certain alienation was always present in the great paintings of the European masters: an emphasis on style over substance, social status over humanity, structured elegance over organic, dynamic life. Portraits of kings, their various noble relatives and the opulence of the royal court were rich in detail but poor in spiritual enrichment.

Under the shadow of this demanding tradition, the art of Iran's Qajar period sought to incorporate Europe's virtues while discarding its inherent vices. The results were vibrant (if decidedly royalist) paintings that assimilated the color tones of European art (dark browns and yellows, bright reds) within the context of Iran's own royal tradition. Using oil paints on heavy canvas, the Qajar masters undertook a "reformation" of sorts within the Persian tradition, rejecting hard-line nativism in favor of integration and accommodation with Europe.
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