A Qajar painting tops the Christie’s auction of Islamic world art


It is expected that a Qajar painting dating back to the nineteenth century will head the auction “Christie’s” of the Islamic and Indian world, which will be held on the first of next April in London. The newly rediscovered painting is of great importance and depicts a celebration of the Persian New Year, or what is known as the festival of Nowruz. The artist and collector Frederick Clay Bartlett ( 1873 -1953) bought the painting in the early 1920s in the United States, and hung it in his studio in the family’s winter resort “Bonnet House” in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

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The painting dates back to the early nineteenth century, and was drawn to depict the rule of the Qajar Shah, and it is the largest of its kind ever to be auctioned. It measures 256 x 442 cm and will be displayed at an estimated price ranging between 1,000,000 and 1,500,000 British pounds. Only one painting was identical and of a slightly smaller size, it had previously sold at auction in year 1975.

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Qajar art is known for its distinctive style of photography, and the current work depicts 24 dignitaries and princes at a celebration of the advent of the Persian New Year during the so-called “Peace Class”, meaning the lining up of these princes to receive salutations on the occasion, as they represent the sons of Fateh Ali Shah (1722 – 1834), his in-laws and grandchildren, who is considered the second ruler of the Qajar dynasty and the first Shah to reunify the country after seventy years of turmoil.

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The Bonnet House Museum and Gardens will use the proceeds of the Qajar painting to maintain his paintings by Frederick Clay Bartlett and Evelyn Fortune Bartlett, in addition to the maintenance of some parts of the historic property itself.

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