May 2020


The Qajar period is perhaps not as widely known to the general public as other periods of Iran’s history, but in October 1998 one of the first exhibitions on the arts of this period, Royal Persian Paintings: the Qajar Epoch, 1785-1925, was organised at the Brooklyn Museum in New York, curated by Layla Diba. The following year, the exhibition travelled to London under the auspices of the Iran Heritage Foundation, and took place at SOAS (6 July - 30 September, 1999). It included over a hundred objects, such as paintings, manuscripts and works on paper, including loans from Iran. The exhibition at SOAS was accompanied by several conferences and events sponsored by IHF.


London was the only venue outside of the USA for this groundbreaking exhibition, which generated the subsequent interest in the arts of the 18th and 19th century Iran. Two decades later, in March 2018, the first major exhibition in continental Europe dedicated to Qajar art opened at the Louvre-Lens, entitled The Rose Empire: Masterpieces of Persian Art from the 19th Century. You can watch this guide to the exhibition by curator Gwenaëlle Fellinger (in French), as well as this report in Persian, and read this article written by Dr Sussan Babaie. This impressive exhibition was part of an important cultural exchange between the Louvre and the National Museum of Iran and opened simultaneously with The Louvre in Tehrana major exhibition, which retraced the creation of the Louvre’s collections and included some of its masterpieces. This exhibition, organised in partnership with IHF, coincided with the 80th anniversary of the National Museum of Iran.