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    Sale 7615

    Art of The Islamic And Indian Worlds

    7 October 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 111

    THREE NASRID TRIANGULAR CEILING PANELS

    ANDALUCIA, SOUTHERN SPAIN, 15TH CENTURY

    Price Realised  

    THREE NASRID TRIANGULAR CEILING PANELS
    ANDALUCIA, SOUTHERN SPAIN, 15TH CENTURY
    Each of equilateral triangular form, the face with strong thick beams dividing it into geometric panels forming a radiating design, each panel painted with a floral design on a brown ground, the beams painted bright red, yellow and light blue, moulded unpainted frame, old damages, the painting and frame possibly later, slight worming
    Each 59¼in. (151cm.) high (3)


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    Wooden ceilings were one of the favourite media for the overall geometric interlace designs which were particularly popular in the 14th and 15th centuries. Moreover, these artesonado ceilings are certainly a characteristic of Nasrid and Mudejar architecture and the Nasrid period was a period of great inventiveness in woodwork. Numerous wooden ceilings have survived within or from the Islamic period in Spain but mostly through isolated pieces and not as part of a coherent group, such as the present three panels.

    These three triangles are decorated with a geometric design radiating from a central eight-pointed to three polygonal shapes in the angles. The eight-pointed star, originally made of two interlocking squares, is a famous Islamic design particularly used by Nasrid artists in the zilij decoration of the walls of the Alhambra among which the Comares Hall (1333-54) is one of the best examples. The black motifs painted on the central stars and in each angle are uncommon by their shapes: a very sharp and stylized form of vine leaf and, on the central stars, a heraldic-like bird.

    The panels are of a simple but definitely uncommon shape: an equilateral triangle that should have been part of a larger geometrical ornamented ceiling although their exact place in an artesonado construction still remains unclear. The ceiling of the church of San Miguel (1560), in Guadix, shows a possible example of how these triangles could have been used as squinches for a wooden vault (El arte mudejar, Museo sin fronteras, Vienne, 2000, p. 285).
    A clue to the original positioning of these triangles could be indicated by the painted decoration. The vegetal decoration is radiating: each bunch of flowers, grapes or pair of pears grows toward the sides of the triangle. This would indicate a horizontal disposition of the panels rather than a vertical or tipped disposition where part of the decoration would have appeared reversed. As the shape of the equilateral triangle does not seem to fit into the traditional octagonal ceiling or any other vaulted ceiling it indicates that these panels could have been part of a flat ceiling of a very large size, based on a very rare hexagonal lattice.

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