Persia in the time of Dr Joseph Désiré Tholozan 1858-1897


Joseph Désiré Tholozan (1820-1897) arrived in Persia in 1858 and remained there until his death in 1897. Personal physician with the title of ‘Hakim Bashi’ to the Persian king Nasser ed-Din Shah Qajar, he was also appointed director of the Medical School of Teheran, founded in 1850. He trained a large number of Persian physicians and wrote medical treatises, published in Persian. He accompanied the Shah during his three European trips (1873, 1878 and 1889) and for health reasons stayed himself three years in France after the last one, for that period being replaced by Dr. Feuvrier as personal physician to the Shah.

Besides his important monographs on epidemic diseases (plague, cholera, etc.), and a report for the Shah on the condition of hygiene in Persia (1869), he collected a good number of first photographs of this country, which had been taken by European and Persian photographers. Today, these photographs are housed in the archive of the Middle East Centre in Oxford.


The coming exhibition will focus on the personal and family history of Tholozan, his activities in Persia and the history of Persia of the period, and will show his unique and beautiful collection of photographs for a larger public for the very first time.




Tholozan, engraving from Jane Dieulafoy, La Perse, La Chaldée et La Susiane, Le Tour du Monde, Nouveau Journal des Voyages, Librairie Hachette etCie, Paris, 1883, Vol. 45, p. 60.


Tholozan at the far left, collection Golestan Palace, Tehran.