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    Sale 7571

    Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds

    8 April 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 151

    A PAIR OF MASSIVE MAMLUK-REVIVAL SILVER AND GOLD INLAID BRASS OVERLAID WOODEN DOORS

    SIGNED ELIAS HATOUN, EGYPT, 1906 AD

    Price Realised  

    A PAIR OF MASSIVE MAMLUK-REVIVAL SILVER AND GOLD INLAID BRASS OVERLAID WOODEN DOORS
    SIGNED ELIAS HATOUN, EGYPT, 1906 AD
    The doors each with a central panel containing offset rows of alternating large and small geometric rosettes, the larger with pronounced central bosses, above and below panels of silver inlaid calligraphy, the panel below containing a gold inlaid signature, around this a border of scolling arabesques followed by one of around geometric polygonal design, the outer border with interlacing motifs forming hexagons and elongated hexagonal panels, with two door-knockers of openwork arabesques, the wooden reverse with simple geometric panelled design, light losses
    Each door 120 x 35in. (314 x 89cm.) (2)


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    The main inscription panels contain two couplets in Arabic:

    qasara 'alayha tahiyya wa salam
    khala'at 'alayha jamalaha al-ayyam
    innama al-janna dar al-mu'minin
    fa-adkhuluha bi-salam aminin


    (Benediction and Salutation have fallen short of [its praise]
    Time has cast its beauty upon it.
    Yet Paradise is the land of believers,
    So enter it in peace and security)

    The last verse is from the Qur'an, sura al-Hijr (XV), v.46.

    The lower left hand panel has a smaller gold inlaid cartouche worked in the lower corner which reads: amal-e bi-mahal Elyas Hatoun 1906.

    The World's Columbian Exposition was the World's Fair held in Chicago in 1893, to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' discovery of the New World. The fair had a profound effect on architecture, the arts, Chicago's self image and American industrial optimism. Among the many exhibits one of the most popular amusements was the first ever Ferris wheel, over 250 feet high, invented by George Ferris. The fair was so successful it went on for longer than the organizers had originally planned. It was a fair that made a considerable impact on the Islamic World. A Kirman carpet celebrating it was sold in these Rooms 16 April 2007, lot 33.

    As part of the Egyptian pavilion at the fair, a life-size copy of the doors of the mosque of the Sultan al-Zahir Barquq Funerary Complex in Cairo was commissioned. The doors obviously made quite an impression at the fair, and more than one major American institution became interested and in the end purchased a pair. It is known that the dealer who handled the commissions in Cairo was Elias Hatoun, one of the leading merchants of the city, who also had a very good stock of art of considerable antiquity and importance including the small Qur'an written in gold that was sold in these Rooms 23 October 2007, lot 20 which he had sold in 1905.

    The present doors are very interesting historically. The small inscription in gold in the lower left hand cartouche identifies clearly that they are the work of Elias Hatoun, together with the date of 1906. This indicates that the reproduction of the doors was a considerable success, with examples still being commissioned 13 years after the first ones appeared at the fair.

    They must have involved a considerable workforce. The size of each is massive, and it takes a minimum of four men to lift each one. Each brass element is separately made and then fixed to the wooden door, with all being individually shaped, and all those of any size also being engraved and inlaid with silver. The calligraphy in the large panels is also very fine. The present doors need a little restoration, and would benefit hugely from a careful polish, but after that would look completely magnificent, a true echo of Mamluk magnificence.

    Special Notice

    VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium