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The Battle of Sultanabad, 1812

Crown Prince Abbas Mirza took the lead in creating a modernized army for the Qajar state. In this painting, which may be of the battle at Sultanabad on 13 February 1812, he can he seen at the left with a pile of Russian heads in front of him. On this occasion the Qajars won; in the later war of 182628 they lost badly.

Depicted on this huge canvas is the defeat of the Russian Trinity Infantry Regiment in the battle near Sultanabad, which took place on 13 February 1812. In the left half of the painting, at the head of the Persian troops, riding a bay horse and wearing a blue robe is Crown Prince Abbas Mirza, son of the reigning Fath Ali Shah. With his right hand he points at the severed heads of the enemy. The defeat itself is shown in the right part of the canvas, where the battle takes place in the Russian camp - note the two-headed eagle of the Russian Empire on the banners. The camp is surrounded by groups of Persian soldiers wearing European uniforms and bearing Persian banners, on which a lion holds a sabre in its paw against a background of the rising sun.

Mounted on a horse in the centre of the painting is an English officer, one of those responsible for the reorganization of the Persian army along European lines.

A relatively minor victory over a single Russian regiment is given here the significance of a major historical event. The painting formed part of the decoration of the Ujan castle of Abbas Mirza, from where in 1828 it was removed by the Russians as a war trophy and brought to the Winter Palace in St Petersburg.

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