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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

And other similar canvases by the same artist


The

furniture in this room is covered with the richest plush.

We now come upon the royal picture gallery (or, rather, gallery of painted canvases), a long, long room, where a most interesting display of Persian, Afghan, Beluch and Turkish arms of all kinds, ancient and modern, gold bows and arrows, jewelled daggers, Damascus swords, are much more attractive than the yards of portraits of ladies who have dispensed altogether with dressmakers' bills, and the gorgeously framed advertisements of Brooks' Machine Cottons, and other products, which are hung on the line in the picture gallery! The pictures by Persian art students--who paint in European style--are rather quaint on account of the subjects chosen when they attempt to be ideal. They run a good deal to the fantastic, as in the case of the several square yards of canvas entitled the "Result of a dream." It contains quite a menagerie of most suggestive wild animals, and dozens of angels and demons in friendly intercourse playing upon the surface of a lake and among the entangled branches of trees. In the background a pyrotechnic display of great magnitude is depicted, with rockets shooting up in all directions, while ethereal, large, black-eyed women lie gracefully reclining and unconcerned, upon most unsafe clouds. The result on the spectator of looking at the "Result of a dream," and other similar canvases by the same artist, is generally, I should think, a nightmare.

justify;">There are some good paintings by foreign artists, such as the life-size nude with a dove by Folagne, which we have already seen, most faithfully and cleverly copied by a Persian artist, in the Shah's dining-room. Then there are some pretty Dutch and Italian pictures, but nothing really first-rate in a purely artistic sense.

The cases of ancient and rare gold and silver coins are, however, indeed worthy of remark, and so are the really beautiful Persian, Afghan and Turkish gold and silver inlaid shields, and the intensely picturesque and finely ornamented matchlocks and flintlocks. Here, too, as in China, we find an abnormally large rifle--something like the _gingal_ of the Celestials. These long clumsy rifles possess an ingenious back sight, with tiny perforations at different heights of the sight for the various distances on exactly the principle of a Lyman back sight.

The Persians who accompanied me through the Palace seemed very much astonished--almost concerned--at my taking so much interest in these weapons--which they said were only very old and obsolete--and so little in the hideous things which they valued and wanted me to admire. They were most anxious that I should stop before a box of pearls, a lot of them, all of good size but not very regular in shape. Anything worth big sums of money is ever much more attractive to Persians (also, one might add, to most Europeans) than are objects really artistic or even pleasing to the eye.

Next to the pearls, came dilapidated butterflies and shells and fossils and stuffed lizards and crocodiles and elephants' tusks, and I do not know what else, so that by the time one came out, after passing through the confusion that reigned everywhere, one's brain was so worn and jumpy that one was glad to sit and rest in the lovely garden and sip cup after cup of tea, which the Palace servants had been good enough to prepare.


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