• Art of the Islamic and Indian  auction at Christies

    Sale 7751

    Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds

    6 October 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 225

    A POLYCHROME PAINTED AND RELIEF CARVED DAMASCUS ROOM

    SYRIA, DATED AH 1214/1799-1800 AD

    Price Realised  

    A POLYCHROME PAINTED AND RELIEF CARVED DAMASCUS ROOM
    SYRIA, DATED AH 1214/1799-1800 AD
    Comprising a main square room with shallow antechambers, the two divided by large spandrels resting on elbow columns, the main room with three large panels in each of the three sides, a further panel forming each side of the antechamber, that on the right with richly ornamented moulded niche, that on the left forming the original entrance to the room, three further panels forming the main wall of the antechambers, the main room and the antichamber each with its own panel ceiling, the woodwork all with decoration of foliage, acanthus leaves and inset mirrors, each panel of the interior with cusped moulding above the window and two panels with calligraphic lines in moulded gold thuluth on gold scrolls over black ground, the beam and frames with moulded polychrome decoration of arabesques, floral sprays and landscapes with groups of houses, most scenes arranged in cusped vignettes, the ceiling arranged around a large gilt moulded medallion with pendant stalactite centrepiece, with inset mirrors, framed by bands of trefoils and raised rounded moulding, further geometric and floral medallions around, a rosette at each corner, the antechamber ceiling composed of a rectangular central panel with moulded medallion and ceiling rose pendant, with inset mirrors, with two square panels and floral-branched star at either side
    21ft. 11in. (670cm.) long; 15ft. 6in. (473cm.) wide; 10ft. 10in. (330cm.) high


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    The inscription is from a qasida by 'Abd al-Rahman al-Bur'i (d.1058 AD), a religious poem in Arabic on the Prophet Muhammad.

    As in most Syrian interiors, the walls of this room would have originally been raised above the floor by 60 or 80cm. The lower wall would have been set with marble mosaic or other coloured stones. Although a strong European influence is clearly felt in these Syrian panelled rooms of the 1800s, the calligraphic verses along the walls as well as the mihrab give to the room a very particular atmosphere. The decoration of this room, rich and yet not exuberant, was probably that of a chamber of a haramlik, the private appartments of a house, where that of a salamlik, the reception section, would have been more heavily decorated.

    For illustrations of a variety of comparable rooms, please see John Carswell, The Future of the Past, the Robert Mouawad Private Museum. (Beirut, 2004) and Brigid Keenan, Damascus, Hidden Treasures of the Old City, (London, 2000)

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Provenance

    Sotheby's, 27 April 1995, lot 90