The occasion for the present article was the appearance for sale in a London auction of the portrait, apparently by the Scottish painter Sir William Allan 1782–1850), reproduced here on p1. I. It represented a young Persian gentleman in mid-nineteenth-century dress. On the back was a label in a later hand, which read:
‘Muzjd [read Mirza?] Mohammed AH Bey / Professor of Oriental Languages / University of Hazan / Painted by Sir William All…’.
On 26 March 1987 the present writer received an inquiry from the cataloguer, Karen Taylor, seeking help with the identification of the sitter and his place of residence. Some rapid inquiries were made at the time, from which it appeared that the university was probably that of Kazan in eastern Russia, and that the sitter may have had some connexion with a teacher of Persian known to the celebrated Russian Orientalist V. V. Bartol'd. However, records relating to Kazan then available in London were insufficient to support a definite identification. The portrait was sold as Lot no. 352 in the auction held on 4th November 1987, and was reproduced in the catalogue of the sale.Subsequent research, and inquiries in Russia, have brought forth fuller information about the sitter, a person whose career was unusual and distinguished, and who may be considered one of the founders of Oriental Studies at St. Petersburg. In spite of the time which has passed since the sale, it seems worth while to put the resulting information on record.