Antoin Sevruguin

Antoin Sevruguin is arguably the most celebrated photographer to have practiced in Iran during the Qajar period and indeed won two international photography exhibition medals for his work at Brussels in 1897 and at Paris in 1900. Sevruguin was born during the 1830s in Tehran's Russian embassy. His father, Vassil de Sevruguin was a diplomat of Armenian origin and his mother, Achin Khanoum, was of Georgian descent. Following a spell in Tbilisi, after the death of his father, Sevruguin relocated back to Iran around 1870 and went on to establish a successful commercial photography studio.


Sevruguin produced a large body of work, both in the context of his portraiture and other commercial photography and his appointment as an official court photographer by Nāṣer-al-Din Shah. In 1908, some 5,000 glass plate negatives, from a body of worked believed to total around 7,000 negatives, were destroyed by an explosion and the related outbreak of fire during a political suppression. Following the fall of the Qajar dynasty, the remaining 2,000 glass negatives were also confiscated by Rezā Shah Pahlavi in the mid-1920s, on the grounds that he considered the images inappropriate. Today, only 695 glass plate negatives are believed to exist and are located in the Smithsonian in the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Archives.