On 28 November, Sotheby’s had the honor to offer at auction treasures from the prestigious Qizilbash collection. The collection, rightly described as “prestigious”, is a truly exceptional group of European works of art from the 17th and 18th centuries. The sale of works raised €2.3 million.
Two world records have punctuated this auction. The first record was achieved by the amazing porcelain garniture composed of three pots-pourris which soared to €1,147,500, a world record for a mounted garniture. Amateurs appreciated the remarkable quality of this garniture composed of three pots-pourris in Chinese bleu céleste porcelain from the Kangxi period (1662-1722) with Louis XV gilt-bronze mountings c. 1765-1770. This piece is characteristic of the "Goût grec", with its powerful, masculine, architectural style. A pair of similar vases with swans’ heads is in the Musée du Louvre collections.
The second world record was for the magnificent ewer and basin which was sold €535,500, highest price for a set made in piqué. Very few pieces of comparable quality produced at the court of Naples in the first half of the 18th century – the period when the piqué technique was at its peak – have remained. In the 19th century, the leading European collectors looked for works in piqué and competed for the most important pieces. This set joined the extraordinary collection of Sir Julian Goldsmid, which also included paintings by John Constable, William Turner and Sir Thomas Gainsborough.
The whole collection comprises works in glass, silver, gold, hardstones, gilt-bronze, porcelain, coral and historic jewels, as well as furniture and piqué tortoiseshell. This dazzling collection has been formed under the watchful eye of Hossein and Mariam Qizilbash, who combine discerning taste with a consuming passion for beautiful works of art, their craftsmanship and design. In many ways, it may be seen as a collection from the ages of William Beckford and the Marquesses of Hertford (The Wallace Collection), perhaps culminating in those of the many Rothschilds, in Frankfurt, Paris and in London.
The Works of Art illustrated, studied and presented in this catalogue represent some of the highest achievements of European craftsmanship and are works of the utmost quality intended for princely display. Each item demonstrates the apex of artistry and creativity from France, England, Italy, Germany and Holland.
London, October 2016
Sotheby’s wishes to thank the eminent Art Historian and former Curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Mr Charles Truman, for his contribution in cataloguing the silver and gold works of art presented in this catalogue.