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Mirza Abu'l Hassan Khan (1776–1845) was sent to the court of King George III in 1809 by the Shah of Persia (Iran), to help negotiate a treaty between Great Britain and Persia. He became a figure of fascination, and many parties were held in his honour. William Beechey was known as one of the foremost portrait painters of his day and painted two recorded portraits of this sitter. In his diplomatic diary Abu'l Hassan describes visiting Beechey's house in Harley Street, London, and his joy at meeting his children. On arrival back in Persia in 1811, he was given the honorary title of Khan, in recognition of the role he had played in the treaty negotiations.
Mirza Abu‘l Hassan Khan spent seven months in London from December 1809 to July 1810. In addition to the two Beechey portraits, the Fogg Art Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts has one painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence. Stopping in Paris for a second visit to London in 1818, his portrait was made by Delacroix which survives in a lithograph in the Bibliotheque Nationale.
Mirza Abu'l Hassan Khan (b.1776), Ambassador for the Shah of Persia
oil on canvas
H 144.2 x W 137.8 cm
CVCSC : 0358.B