RELEASE: Islamic Art Week at Christie's London, 7 - 11 October 2013

Islamic Art Week at Christie’s London will feature four sales which will take place from 7 – 11 October 2013 at King Street and South Kensington.


Islamic Art Week at Christie’s London will feature four sales which will take place from 7 – 11 October 2013 at King Street and South Kensington. The sales offer both new and established collectors the opportunity to acquire important and beautiful works with exceptional provenance. On 8 October 2013 the Oriental Rugs & Carpets  sale at King Street will feature the rare and magnificent Vanderbilt Mughal “star-lattice” carpet, which was owned by American industrialist Cornelius Vanderbilt II and remained in his family for nearly a century (estimate: £1.5 – 2 million). On 10 October 2013 the sale of Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds including a Private Collection Donated to Benefit the University of Oxford Part IV at King Street will feature over 230 lots showcasing the exquisite craftsmanship of works of art and works on paper dating from as early as the 7th century. A Private Collection Donated to Benefit the University of Oxford will continue to realize the vision of a very generous benefactor. The funds raised will be used by the University of Oxford to support a curatorship at the Bodleian Libraries and fund a post in Sasanian Studies. At South Kensington The Saeed Motamed Collection Part II and the Arts & Textiles of the Islamic & Indian Worlds on 7 & 11 October 2013 respectively will offer a diverse array of works from across the spectrum of the category.  

Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds including a Private Collection Donated to Benefit the University of Oxford, Part IV – King Street, 10 October 2013

Christie’s is pleased to offer, within the sale of Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds on 10 October 2013, 43 lots which make up the fourth and final installment of A Private Collection Donated to Benefit the University of Oxford. Leading the collection is a 16th century painting by the pre-eminent artist Mahmud Muzahhib from the Gulistan of Sa’di,: The Tyranny of a Teacher is Better than the Love of a Father, circa 1560 (estimate: £120,000 – 150,000). Muzahhib was undoubtedly the most important artist of his generation in Bukhara -– and the leading proponent of the Bukhara school of painting under the Shaybanids, especially under the great bibliophile Sultan 'Abd al-Aziz. He was accomplished in all the arts of the book although, as is typical in the West, it is his painting that has been most studied.

The rest of the collection, which is comprised of mostly Persian works on paper, includes a number of wonderful examples of calligraphy, including panels and manuscripts by a number of the most important calligraphers of Safavid Iran.  One of the highlights of the collection is a manuscript copied by Mir ‘Ali (Harawi) in Shaybanid Bukhara in AH 938/1531-32 AD (estimate: £80,000 – 120,000). Mir ‘Ali is often mentioned by Safavid sources as among the most important nasta'liq calligraphers of all time. Two nasta'liq couplets praising his penmanship are found at the beginning of this manuscript,  copied by two Royal Safavid calligraphers, Shah Mahmud al-Nishapuri and al-faqir malik, presumably referring to Malik al-Daylami. It is a testament to the skill and elegance of Mir 'Ali's calligraphy that it was praised by these two calligraphers, each particularly recognized for their skill in composing nasta'liq.

Elsewhere in the sale a strong selection of early Qu’ran folios and sections includes an early Hijazi Qur'an folio dating to the second half of the 7th/early 8th century (estimate: £60,000 – 80,000). This Qur’an leaf is a rare survival from the earliest period of Qur’an production. Also offered is a rare Kufic Qu’ran section which unusually is copied in a vertical format (estimate: £40,000 – 60,000). The distinctive vertical format of this kufic Qur'an section is an innovation which has been attributed to the first half of the 10th century. Later examples include two Mamluk Qur’ans, one copied between 1306 and 1311 by the most famous scribe of the period, Ibn al-Wahid

Early Islamic objects include an important hand bombard made for the earliest firearm battalions of the Arab world (estimate: £50,000 – 70,000). Known otherwise only from contemporaneous written sources, this weapon is an extremely rare and important survival from a short-lived period during which the Mamluks used firearms as a modern method of warfare. The Mamluk army did not take well to this modern firearm and it is possible that this led to the demise of the Mamluk Sultanate; they were not able to meet the challenge of both the Ottoman Empire and the Christian West.

A strong section of Ottoman Turkish art is highlighted by a rare Ming pencase made for the Ottoman market in the late 16th century (estimate: £80,000 – 120,000). Travelling through Anatolia in 1331, Ibn Battuta (1304-1377) noted the strong taste of Ottomans for fine Chinese porcelain. These porcelains often inspired the luxury ceramics produced at the Ottoman and Safavid courts as both designs and forms were frequently imitated and re-interpreted by local potters. However, as well as exporting their own wares which delighted and inspired the craftsmen of the Islamic world, the Chinese also produced large quantities of blue-and-white ceramics in ‘Islamic’ forms, especially with that market in mind. This Ming pen box was modified on its arrival in Turkey to suit the taste of the Ottoman court. The palace jeweller embellished the original decoration of the box with gold and turquoise to lend it a more opulent appearance. It is one of a number of examples of Chinese blue and white porcelains embellished by Ottoman craftsmen and is an attestation to the high regard in which these foreign imports were held. Ottoman pottery is further represented by a group of Iznik pottery including a dish, circa 1560- (estimate: £30,000 – 50,000). Elsewhere in the Ottoman section are some good examples of armour, including a 16th century steel chamfron elegantly engraved with arabesques (estimate: £35,000-50,000) and a rare silver-gilt mounted saddle made in the mid-18th century (estimate: £50,000-70,000).

A selection of Indian objects and works of art on paper includes three gemset and enamelled sword hilts which are the property of a Royal House. Visitors arriving at the courts of Indian rulers in the 17th century were unanimously impressed by their material splendor. The lavishness of the interiors that greeted them, highlighted with small accents given by enamelled and jewelled objects, has been commented on time and again. The two khanda hilts offered in this sale, are the only known examples of this form decorated in this rich enameled and gem-set manner (estimate: £60,000 – 80,000 and estimate: £30,000 – 50,000).  These highly decorative and intricately enamelled gold hilts were a status symbol fashionable in the 17th century; contemporaneous paintings depict Emperors and those closest to them leaning upon such swords.

Later enameling is found on a large diamond-set and enamelled gold torque dating to 19th century Jaipur. It is beautifully decorated showing the classic rural form combined with the decorative achievements of royal Mughal craftsmen (estimate: £15,000 – 25,000). The Indian section also features a number of Sikh pieces including a group of Sikh royal miniature portraits (estimate: £7,000-10,000) and a group of early photographs of the Golden Temple Complex (estimate: £15,000-25,000). 

Works of art from Iran include arms and armour, miniatures, metalwork and pottery. Amongst the highlights is a fine Safavid lacquer binding which dates to the third quarter of the 16th century (estimate: £30,000 – 50,000).

Oriental Rugs & Carpets – King Street, 8 October 2013

Leading the sale of Oriental Rugs & Carpets is the rare and magnificent Vanderbilt Mughal “star-lattice” carpet which dates to late 17th/early 18th century (estimate: £1.5 million – 2 million). This carpet, which is in exceptional condition, was once owned by American industrialist Cornelius Vanderbilt II and remained in his family for over a century. It is one of only 12 known millefleurs carpets from Mughal India. During the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries the carpet looms of the Mughal dynasty in India produced many of the most magnificent carpets in existance today. These beautiful carpets were originally woven to adorn the great palaces of the Mughal court, but through Dutch, Portuguese and English trading companies they quickly became highly sought-after objects by wealthy Europeans. With the rise of industrial wealth in the United States in the second half of the 19th century, many of the new American millionaires began to emulate the collecting tastes of earlier European aristocracy. Along with collecting early furniture and old master paintings, these wealthy Americans avidly acquired magnificent early carpets. The fact that the carpet remained in the Vanderbilt family’s possession for nearly 100 years may explain the extremely well preserved physical condition of the carpet. This impressive condition, along with the carpet's inherent beauty, ranks it as one of the most remarkable classical carpets existing today. For a dedicated press release please click here.

Comprising 173 lots the sale includes a wide variety of important classical collectors’ pieces and fine furnishing carpets. Highlights include a Transcaucasian rug dating to the 18th century (estimate: £120,000 – 180,000) which is an oustanding weaving that combines earlier Anatolian and Persian design features in a way that is completely new and harmonious. It relates to the Nigde carpet in that it uses courtly motifs, but interprets them in a completely new and vital way to create a unique and very beautiful rug. The Safavid period is renowned for the great carpets that were made to adorn the court, the royal palaces, and the houses of the wealthiest citizens. The opulent weavings of Isfahan, the capital city of Safavid Iran throughout the 17th century, are well known and can be seen in a number of carpets in the sale, such as the silk and metal-thread Polonaise carpet and a late 16th-century Isfahan carpet which belongs to the rare early group of silk-warped Isfahan carpets that are among the most important and beautiful of all Safavid weavings (estimate: £100,000 – 150,000).

An important private collection of six Beshir prayer rugs includes this rare early 19th century white ground prayer rug (estimate: £50,000 – 70,000). More than any other group of Turkmen rugs, the Beshir prayer rugs can be seen as a reflection and synthesis of motifs from neighbouring weaving cultures, and yet the genesis and weavers of these beautiful rugs still remain shrouded in mystery.

Additional highlights of the sale include a large Kashan ‘Mohtasham’ carpet formerly in the collection of the royal family of Iran (estimate: £70,000 – 100,000) and a white ground 'star' Kazak rug (estimate: £40,000 - 60,000).

The Saeed Motamed Collection - Part II – South Kensington, 7 October 2013

In April 2013 Christie’s was proud to offer Part I of The Saeed Motamed Collection. Saeed Motamed (1925 – 2013) started collecting art in 1953 and continued to do so until the late 1980s and early 1990s.  Part II of the collection will be offered on 7 October 2013 and will be sold in part to benefit a charitable organization, something the present owners consider a fitting tribute to a man who had an exceptional commitment and passion for the Arts. Saeed Motamed’s pioneering interest for Islamic art and particularly his love for early Islamic glass and Persian lacquer works made him famous through Europe and America. Many pieces that once belonged to him are now prized museum exhibits. His methodical and conscientious approach for recording and documenting his acquisitions enables Christie’s to offer this collection with the support of detailed and documented provenance.

Part II of The Saeed Motamed Collection presents a remarkable cross section of objects spanning vast regions stretching from India to Turkey and beyond. The selection of Persian lacquer is particularly strong with examples illustrating the styles and schools of major Qajar artists with some late Safavid and Zand examples. The collection also includes fine Indian paintings, intact examples of early Iranian glass, illuminated Safavid manuscripts and a selection of works of art from the ancient Mediterranean. It reflects Motamed’s diverse collecting style and also includes a fine selection of Indian and Persian arms and armour, rare Safavid and Qajar works on paper, early manuscripts, Qur’an folios, illuminated diwans as well as Indian paintings.

Persian Safavid and Qajar lacquers feature strongly in the collection and are one of the finest comprehensive selections to come to the market in years. Exceptional examples include a fine lacquered mirror case from the school of Muhammad Isma’il, Qajar Iran, circa 1855-60 (estimate: £6,000 – 10,000) and a large Qajar lacquered papier-mâché casket dating to the early 19th century (estimate: £6,000 – 8,000).  The casket is finely painted with scenes depicting Fath ‘Ali Shah and the Crown Prince ‘Abbas Mirza hunting.

A broad selection of works of art on paper within the collection includes a portrait of a Qajar Minister signed Khanazad Abu Al-Hasan III, dated AH 1294/1877-78 AD (estimate: £5,000 – 8,000) and a portrait of a young lady signed Muhammad Hasan Afshar, dated AH 1254/1838-39 AD (estimate: £5,000 – 7,000). Muhammad Hasan was active as a court painter during the reigns of Fath ‘Ali Shah, Muhammad Shah and Nasir al-Din Shah. He was influenced by European painting traditions and often worked European subjects. Further highlights include a portrait of a Mughal Prince, identified as Sulayman Shikoh son of Dara Shikoh (estimate: £3,000 – 5,000) and a Safavid Silsilat al-Dhahab, dated AH 962/1555-56 AD (estimated £5,000 to £7,000).

Arts & Textiles of the Islamic & Indian Worlds – South Kensington, 11 October 2013

Featuring 417 lots the Arts & Textiles of the Islamic & Indian Worlds sale at Christie’s South Kensington on 11 October 2013 spans the 9th to 21st century and offers a diverse array of works from across the spectrum of the category. The sale features a large selection of Indian paintings, from an early illustration to the Bhagavata Purana, second half 16th century, to Mughal album pages and Rajput devotional works. Amongst the Indian works of art are two rare depictions of sati, the ancient ritual self-immolation of widows. A vast number of Islamic manuscripts will be offered, including Qur’ans, scientific and history manuscripts, alongside Persian and Ottoman works of art.

Leading the sale are two important Susani hanging panels: a Shahrisyabz Susani and a “large medallion” Susani, each offered with an estimate of £20,000 - 40,000. Very rare and still displaying their vivid colours, they illustrate the best of Uzbek embroideries of the first half of the 19th century. The sale also includes a very strong selection of Ottoman embroideries from the 17th to the 19th century with large and colourful bohces, embroidered towels and prayer panels.

The sale includes a group of silver pieces by the renowned Indian silversmith Oomersi Mawji. His atelier produced some of the finest works during the late 19th century. A pair of footed bowls (estimate: £3,000 – 4,000) display his style, combining designs directly inspired by nature with more stylized floral motifs.

A Professor’s Library, a selection of 15 lots featuring a number of masterpieces of Persian literature, was formed by Cambridge Professor D.S. Robertson and his son, Prof G.H. Robertson, in the late 1940’s and after. This collection features rare examples of manuscript paintings from the 17th and 18th century and offers the opportunity to acquire manuscripts such as a Khamsa of Nizami, dated AH 848/February 1441 AD, which have barely been altered since they were copied (estimate: £3,000-5,000).  A collection of books and documents relating to the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj) features early photographs from Mecca and the Ka’ba, and a renowned work on the subject, the Mir’at al-Haramayn, as well as other memorabilia (estimate: £3,000 – 5,000). Two silver-gilt models of the Holy Mosques of Mecca and Medina (estimates: £6,000 – 8,000 each) are other striking highlights from the section on the Islamic Holy Sites.



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