Khosrow Parviz was the last great king of the Sassanian empire, and is depicted in this portrait wearing a finely-embroidered dress adorned with pearls and precious stones, typical of the Fath 'Ali Shah period in which the work was executed (1217 AH/1802-03 AD). Kneeling upon a heavily ornamented carpet, there is a European clock on his right hand-side. He is identified thanks to an inscription to the upper right of the painting.
The present work relates to a series of portraits of revered Persian rulers and figures from the Shahnameh
commissioned by Fath ‘Ali Shah to decorated the palatial chambers of the ‘Imarat-i Sadri
palace in Isfahan. Thanks to the accounts of European travellers in Persia in the first half of the nineteenth century, we know that these canvases were hung in the palace (see for example the writings of James Morier in 1808-09, J.S. Buckingham in 1825, and Charles Texier in 1839-40).
Fath 'Ali Shah commissioned his preferred court artist Mihr ‘Ali to execute the series, whose signature can be found on at least three other paintings from the group. Two of these works, depicting Asfrasiyab and Genghis Khan were offered at Christie’s in 1992, and are both now housed in private collections. Both these portraits were exhibited in the London showing of the exhibition Royal Persian Paintings: 1785-1925
in 1999 and are published in Raby 1999, pp.49-51, nos.115 and 116, where he states that these paintings “…fill an important gap in the oeuvre of Mihr ‘Ali, as well as helping us to reconstruct the historical context in which Fath ‘Ali Shah wished his own image to be viewed.”
The physical features of Khosrow, the attention to details in his robe and the surroundings, for example the light shadow around the pearls on the robe, all point towards the style of Mihr 'Ali. Of particular note is the similarity in the treatment of face of the present sitter to the young boy in the background of a monumental painting of King Jamshid, signed by Mihr 'Ali, offered at Sotheby's, London, 7 October 2015, lot 300. Other works signed by or attributed to same artist were sold in these rooms, 7 October 2009, lot 69, 9 April 2014, lot 87 (both depicting Fath 'Ali Shah) and 24 April 2013, lot 109 (depicting Crown Prince 'Abbas Mirza). Each of these three royal portraits portray the sitter with the typical broad shoulders, slim waist, and wearing regal dress comparable to that of the present painting.