This painting by Hossein Arjangi, known as Mir Mosavvar, shows a portrait of Doost Ali Khan Moayer-ol-Mamalek, Nasereddin Shah’s son-in-law, who was also a statesman of the late Qajar and early Pahlavi periods. An advocate of Persian Classicism and a follower of Kamal-ol-Molk School of Painting, Mir Mosavvar has skillfully displayed his skill in creating portraits. His painting is an outstanding example both in terms of drawing and application of paint. Even though followers of Kamal-ol-Molk were sometimes obsessively engrossed in cumbersome details, Mir Mosavvar made free use of brush to portray Doost Ali Khan. His free brush movements are strongly felt in the depiction of clothes of his model. Renaissance and Baroque style portrait painting were common among this group of Iranian painters. In this work presented for the auction, similarities to Baroque style portraits with dark backgrounds and strong localized light projected on the face are evident. This color and light contrast causes facial features to stand out and produce a sense of fatherhood in the model. Hence, in addition to displaying his technical acumen in portrait painting, Mir Mosavvar has added an emotional dimension to the work. Another distinct feature of the work is the accurate effective application of skin color in the portrait.
“He knew how to work with oil, watercolor, and niello perfectly,” recalled Doost Ali Khan’s son who was one of Mir Mosavvar’s close friends, “while his knowledge of colors and their combination was unmatched. He had more interest in portrait painting where he could utilize his skill, powerful quick brushstrokes, and his mastery of bright harmonious colors to bewitch and create masterpieces.”
Mir Mosavvar and his younger brother, Rassam Arjangi, are both considered Iranian classic painters. Signs of Modernism and perception of modern art, however, are evident in their works. Mir Mosavvar Arjangi’s sense of patriotism has given birth to the portrait of a large number of national figures. The present work as well as portraits of figures such as Nadir Shah, Amir Kabir, and Reza Shah are among his works.