Mechti Kuli Beg, Persian Ambassador to Prague, 1605
Aegidius Sadeler (Dutch, ca. 1570–1629), Engraver
The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1949 (49.95.2202)
In fall 1603, soon after an embassy from Rudolf II had requested support in his struggle against the Ottomans in Hungary, Shah Abbas of Persia launched an attack against the eastern borders of the Ottoman empire. In order to maintain close diplomatic relations with the Holy Roman Emperor during this long campaign, the shah dispatched to Prague an ambassador, who posed, holding his pet falcon, for this portrait by Rudolf's court engraver. Sadeler must have been intrigued by Persian script, though he had some difficulty engraving the inscription that identifies the sitter as an envoy of Shah Abbas. The calligraphic cluster at the left, representing the ambassador's name, could have been copied from his signet ring.