Release: A Private Collection Donated to Benefit the University of Oxford Part III - London, 25 April 2013

In 2012 an extremely generous benefactor donated a very impressive group of Islamic and Indian works of art on paper to benefit the University of Oxford.


In 2012 an extremely generous benefactor donated a very impressive group of Islamic and Indian works of art on paper to benefit the University of Oxford. Following the success of Part I and Part II, Christie’s is pleased to announce details of Part III of A Private Collection Donated to Benefit the University of Oxford which will take place on 25 April 2013. Proceeds of the sale will benefit the University of Oxford where they will be used to support a curatorship at the Bodleian Libraries as well as a post in Sasanian Studies. Comprising 56 lots the collection includes works on paper from the Islamic and Indian worlds. The collection is expected to realise in excess of £1 million. This is a great opportunity for collectors to acquire extraordinary works and contribute to this philanthropic endeavor, supporting the world-renowned University of Oxford.

Sara Plumbly, Head of the Islamic Art Department, Christie’s London comments:  Over the course of 2012 we were delighted to have been able to help raise funds needed for the development of studies in our field at the University of Oxford. This Spring we are honoured to be able to offer the third instalment of works of art on paper from a very generous benefactor. The sale includes important manuscripts and paintings from Iran, India, Turkey and Central Asia and presents a wonderful opportunity for people to acquire important works of art whilst supporting a very good cause.”

Richard Ovenden, Deputy to Bodley’s Librarian, University of Oxford, comments: “The Bodleian is hugely grateful for this continued benefaction and we are delighted with the funds raised through the first two sales.  The total proceeds from all sales will enable the University to support the study of the Persian arts of the book at the Bodleian and through the endowment of a curatorship and the creation of a new academic position in Sasanian Studies, the first of its kind in the United Kingdom.  Together this will support scholarship in this important period in Iran’s history and culture and allow Oxford to train future generations of scholars in this hitherto neglected field.”

The sale features a fine selection of Islamic and Indian paintings and manuscripts ranging from the 14th to early 20thcenturies. Highlights include a 15th century miniature of The Court of Pir Budaq, published in the early 1990s by B.W. Robinson (estimate: £70,000 – 100,000). Abu'l Fath Pir Budaq (d.1466) was the eldest son of the Qaraquyunlu ruler Jahanshah (r.1439-1467) and  an important patron of the arts.  After making repeated challenges on his father’s rule, he was forcibly moved to Baghdad from Shiraz where he commissioned a small number of wonderfully illuminated manuscripts, and was one of the main proponents of the so-called school of ‘Turkman Court Painting’.  

From Ottoman Turkey the highlights include a Qu’ran from the late 15th/early 16th century (estimate: £60,000 – 80,000). With jewel-like illumination, the Qu’ran also includes an unusual appendix at the end which explains the care with which the Qur'an was copied. The scribe bore various points in mind whilst writing the Qur’an, including the positioning of various important words on the page. Further Ottoman highlights include a grisaille drawing which depicts a confrontation between a dragon and simurgh, drawn in the style of Shah Quli (d.1555/56), the most important proponent of the saz style of Ottoman court painting in the 16th century (estimate £10,000-15,000).

The sale also features a Safavid copy of the  Munajat of the Imam ‘Ali that was copied in the final years of the reign of Shah Isma’il, by ‘Ali al-Husayni – believed by many to be Mir ‘Ali al-Harawi, a scribe credited with developing new rules for nasta’liq script (estimate: £50,000 – 70,000). The black lacquer binding of this manuscript, finely decorated both inside and out with cartouches and spandrels of fine gold scrolling arabesque, is original to the manuscript and one of a small but elegant group.  

A folio from the St. Petersburg Muraqqa’ is the highlight of the Indian section. One side of the folio has a painting depicting Krishna watching the Gopis Bathe, dating to circa 1680. The other side has calligraphy by ‘Imad al-Hassani – copied in Safavid Iran in the late 16th/early 17th century. It is expected to realise between £80,000 and £100,000. It is believed that the Indian paintings from the album were bought from India to Iran by Nadir Shah following his sack of Delhi in 1739. In Iran, borders were created for the folios by the well-known artists Muhammad Baqir, Muhammad Sadiq and Muhammad Hadi.

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