RELEASE: Islamic Art - London, October 2012

Christie’s is pleased to announce details of Islamic Art Week in October 2012, with five sales taking place at the King Street and South Kensington salerooms.


Christie’s is pleased to announce details of Islamic Art Week in October 2012, with five sales taking place at the King Street and South Kensington salerooms.  The auction of Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds, on 4 October 2012, celebrates the exquisite craftsmanship of works of art produced since the 9th century. Featuring nearly 300 lots, the breadth and depth of this dynamic sale will excite the vibrant market for this category which saw international bidding in April. The auction is expected to realise in excess of £4 million. Following the success of A Private Collection Donated to Benefit the University of Oxford in April, Christie’s is proud to announce Part II of this charitable endeavor which will take place on 4 October 2012 (please see full press release attached here). 


The sale of Art of the Islamic & Indian Worlds features a strong array of Ottoman Turkish works of art. A group of Iznik pottery is led by a rare early blue and white ewer, circa 1510, estimated at £200,000 to £300,000 (illustrated page one right). The form of this ewer is clearly borrowed from a Chinese prototype; the potters of Iznik freely adapted and re-interpreted elements of the decorative repertoire of their Chinese forebearers. A charming, and unusual feature of this ewer is the dragon form handle - known only in one other Iznik vessel, the so-called “Godman Ewer" in the British Museum. Another exceptional piece of Iznik pottery is a jug, dated circa 1570, decorated with triple leopard spot motifs (cintamani) (estimate: £25,000 – 35,000).

A 17th century Ottoman child’s sword has an estimate of £100,000 – 150,000. With elegant gold and yellowed mounts this sword is closely comparable to one that was presented to Tsar Alexey Mikhaylovich in 1655 which is now in the Russian Armory Museum in Moscow.


Indian works on paper are led by an album with comes from the family collection of the Duc de Luynes, which was probably formed in the second half of the 18th or the early 19th century – a period of considerable French interest in India. The album contains a series of Mughal paintings dating from the late 16th century as well as what is, most probably, a study for one of the most famous paintings of Shah Jahan, painted by the artist Hashim, currently in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. The album also features a miniature by Muhammadi, or a close follower, from Safavid Khurasan, circa 1560-80 (estimate £80,000 – 120,000).

Indian works of art include a richly enamelled and diamond-inset gold hilted Mughal sword (tulwar), which dates to the late 17th/early 18th century and epitomises the richness of the Mughal courts which unanimously impressed visitors and led to its description by Sir Thomas Roe, as ‘the treasury of the world’ (estimate £60,000-80,000). The tradition of richly enamelling and inseting gold objects with precious stones is one that continued into the 19th century: two later examples of the technique are include a gold wine flask (estimate: £30,000 – 50,000), and a set comprising a ewer and five small beakers (estimate: £30,000 – 50,000).


This sale has a very strong array of Qur’anic manuscripts and includes an extremely impressive group of early Qur’an folios, led by a kufic example with an extremely bold and unusual sura heading. The folio illustrates the transition of style from the earlier more typical kufic towards the more angular and accentuated regional styles of what have become known as ‘Eastern’ and ‘Western’ kufic (estimate: £80,000 – 100,000). From further West, a group of striking folios written in elegant maghribi on pink paper, come from a 13th century Andalusian Qur’an and present a rare opportunity to acquire a consecutive section from a known and sought after manuscript (estimate £80,000 – 120,000).

The strong group of Qur’ans also features a monumental Mamluk Egyptian example, written in a vigorous muhaqqaq script, and dating to the first half of the 14th century (estimate £150,000 – 200,000). Other Mamluk works in the sale include a rare 13th century enamelled glass beaker, probably from Aleppo, which is a remarkable lyrical survival from the greatest period of Islamic glass manufacture (estimate £50,000-70,000).

Works from Iran include a small enamelled portrait of Fath ‘Ali Shah Qajar, which is by the celebrated court artist Muhammad Baqir. This was given as a diplomatic gift to Sir Henry Willock (1790-1858), Lieutenant-Colonel and British Envoy to Iran from 1815-26, to whom Fath ‘Ali also presented the ‘Order of the Lion and the Sun’ which was instituted by the Shah to honour foreign officials who had rendered distinguished services to Iran. Sir Henry later became chairman of the East India Company (1844 - 45) (estimate: £20,000 – 30,000, illustrated left). A late 13th/early 14th century silver-inlaid bronze candlestick base from South West Iran is a rare form not often found in Iranian metalwork from the Mongol era; the nine sides complement the series of three figural roundels which repeat three times around the sides of the candlestick base, resulting in this wonderful mathematical sense of symmetry (estimate: £90,000 – 120,000).


The Arts of India sale on 1 October 2012 is the first of its kind to be held at Christie’s South Kensington. It will include a Private European Collection of Indian Art, led by a Mughal portrait of a standing noble, circa mid-17th century (estimate: £12,000-18,000). The collection will feature Indian paintings, pieces of 19th and early 20th century jewellery and a fine and rare Thai gold bowl (estimate: £5,000 – 7,000). The sale will offer a selection of paintings, ranging from early Mughal examples to Pahari miniatures and impressive late 19th century Tanjore icons. Fine silverworks, textiles for the South-East Asian market, arms and armours and rare inlaid cabinets will be well represented in the sale, particularly with a large late 17th or 18th century ivory-inlaid cabinet, from Sindh or Gujarat (estimate: £8,000 – 12,000).

The Arts of Islam sale, which will be held on 5 October 2012, features a fine selection of Ottoman works of art and textiles; leading this section is a 17th century gem-set green aventurine cup (estimate: £10,000 – 12,000). The auction will also include a group of 16th and 17th century Iznik pottery dishes as well as 19th century silver works. A large gilt and enamelled glass mosque lamp, probably from France, circa 1870, is made after Mamluk examples from 14th century Syria and Egypt (estimate: £15,000 – 25,000). A number of Arabic, Persian and Ottoman manuscripts and works on paper, from early Kufic Qur’an folios to late 19th century Qajar illuminated manuscripts. Early and Medieval ceramics and metalwork are well represented in the sale with a large 10th century Samanid Central Asian pottery bowl decorated with geometric design (estimate: £3,000 – 5,000) and a 14th century Mamluk gold and silver-inlaid candlestick (estimate: £10,000 – 15,000). The arms and armour portion is led by a Qajar set of armour from the collection of Heinrich Schliemann, the discoverer of Troy (estimate: £6,000 – 9,000).


The sale of Oriental Rugs & Carpets on 2 October 2012 will feature approximately 160 carpets, including examples of Persian, Caucasian and Turkish rugs. A particularly fine early example of one of the most iconic of all carpet designs is a large star Ushak carpet from West Anatolia, dating to the half 16th century (estimate: £80,000 – 120,000). The ‘star’ design had a very enduring appeal and it is one of the earliest Ottoman carpets to have been depicted in a European context. This carpet is an example of the most desirable versions of the design with beautifully drawn eight-lobed medallions and diamond lozenges.

Further highlights include a Khorasan carpet from North East Persia, dating to the late 17th or early 18th century; the depiction of the flowering prunus tree was a popular motif used in Persian paintings as well as carpet design (estimate: £60,000 – 80,000). A Mamluk carpet from Egypt, probably Cairo, dating to the second half of the 15th century is hugely important in furthering knowledge of the development of the Mamluk carpet, as it is almost the only one that is securely dateable. This rug is one of the earliest Mamluk rugs to have survived. It has many more colours than most, and it is in remarkably good condition for its age, having virtually no repiling at all. It is a remarkable survival from one of the greatest carpet production centres that have ever existed (estimate: £600,000 – 800,000). For further information please see the full sale catalogue here.

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