Gallery Asset

Portrait of Abd el-Ouahed ben Messaoud, Moroccan ambassador to England

This portrait commemorates the visit of the King of Fez’s embassy to London in 1600-1. The sitter’s stance and clothing, as well as his prominent scimitar (curved sword), indicate his cultural and military prestige. During this time the embassy was publicly negotiating a trade agreement, but the real purpose of this visit was to form an offensive military allegiance against Catholic Spain.

The inscriptions to the left indicate the date of the visit, the name of the sitter and his age, while his title is given to the right. This painting marks a dynamic period of Anglo-Islamic exchange which encompassed artistic, diplomatic, religious and commercial spheres.

This was the first official painting ever made in England of a Muslim, and it depicts the Moroccan ambassador with a fierce and intimidating look.

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Date: 1600