• Art of the Islamic and Indian  auction at Christies

    Sale 7843

    Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds

    13 April 2010, London, King Street

  • Lot 259



    Price Realised  


    Gouache heightened with gold on paper, the voluptuous lady stands with arm akimbo smelling a pink carnation, she wears a muslin robe over striped trousers and an embroidered double coat with long decorative slit-sleeves, the coat held by a large jewelled belt, behind her a plain background with occasional gold floral sprays, laid down between gold illuminated margins with silver-speckled borders, face repainted, mounted, framed and glazed
    Miniature 6 x 3 5/8in. (15.2 x 9cm.)

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    Levni (Abdülcelil Chelebi), who worked under the patronage of Sultan Ahmed III (r. 1703-30) in the early 18th century, was perhaps the greatest exponent of the 'Tulip Period' - a period in Ottoman history given to pleasure and extravagant living. Born in Edirne, he began his career as an illuminator and decorator but became known for the painting of portraits. His most important work is the Surnameh of Vehbi, which he began in 1720, the year he was made naqqash-bashi, but most characteristic amongst Levni's works are a series of single figures prepared for albums. Atasoy and Çagman write that Levni naturally perpetuated both the art of album making, which was established in the context of Ottoman miniatures in the beginning of the 17th century, as well as the great popularity of single figure studies (Nurhan Atasoy and Filiz Çagman, Turkish Miniature Painting, Istanbul, 1974, p. 76). Whilst he adopted the static poses and classical style of the early 17th century, he reproduced them in a softer but more lively manner with more freedom and movement. These characteristics are found in the present miniature, as well a number in an album in the Topkapi Palace Museum (particularly H.2164, fol.13., published Ivan Stchoukine La Peinture Turque d'après les Manuscrits Illustrés, IIme partie de Murad IV a Mustafa III 1623-1773, Paris, 1971, pl.LXXX).

    Fol. 13 of album H.2164 in the Topkapi Palace Museum, which is signed by Levni, is almost a mirror image of this work. In the Topkapi example the woman stands in precisely the same position but facing the other way and in an exterior as opposed to on a carpet. This duplication may suggest that the two were conceived to be presented on facing pages, or otherwise that the sitter was famous or favourite figure.

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