Like other fellow painters of the Kamal-ol-Molk School, Jafar Petgar was fascinated by the depiction of the everyday life of people on streets and in bazaars. His capacity to apply thick brushstrokes, to make perfect drawings, and to avoid fine details, is evident in this painting which is a remarkable example of his work. Petgar had a thorough understanding of colors, thus making use of a wide spectrum of brown and green. The fine drawing of the artist is evident in the portrait and hands of his model. The wrinkles on the forehead and the boney hands of the old man who is lighting his chibouk clearly illustrate the social status of the model. The broken blue lines of the smoke from the chibouk that are recurring in the background indicate the artist’s fascination for impressionism. The same fascination is visible in thick, local patches, which indicates his skill in applying oil.
Jafar Petgar, who is one of the most important Iranian classic artists, played a pivotal role in educating a large number of Iranian modernists. After learning the basics of art in Tabriz, young Petgar traveled to Tehran along with his brother, Aliasghar Petgar, to experience new possibilities in art education in the capital. He initially adopted a purely classical approach, but later slanted toward impressionist techniques.
The early work of Jafar Petgar mainly illustrates landscape and his living environment. His subjects mostly include representation of a class of people to which he himself once belonged, people with whom he had lived. These include the Darner, Old Chicken Seller, the Painter’s Mother, Rug Vendors, and other characters taken from his everyday life. Later on he gained more experience and underwent substantial changes in composition, representation of landscape, and introduction of Persian origin. In general, Petgar’s later work is characterized by thick brushstrokes and layers of paint which is evident in the present painting.
The Petgar brothers can be rightly considered to be among the most prominent art students in Tehran during the 1940s. A number of modern artists, including Hanibbal Alkhas, Farideh Lashai, Firouz Shirvanlou, Ali Golestaneh, and Nami Petgar, were students of Jafar Petgar.