The sale was led by the most important Persian royal portrait to appear on the market in decades. Depicting Fath ‘Ali Shah and dating from circa 1820, it sold for £3 million ($5 million), establishing a new record for any Qajar portrait.
Other highlights from the sale include an imperial Ottoman penbox, which doubled its pre-sale estimate to sell for £314,500 ($526,567) and a manuscript of poems from the Khamsa of Nizami, which sold for £194,500 ($325,651). Overall, today’s sale achieved a total of £6,980,175 ($11,686,907), against a pre-sale estimate of £5.1 to 7.6 million.
Sotheby's spring sale of Arts of the Islamic World will offer the discerning collector a select variety of pieces originating from the broad lands under Islamic patronage over 1400 years. Principal among all the lots on offer is a magnificent and rare royal portrait of the Qajar ruler Fath 'Ali Shah, attributed to Mihr 'Ali, Persia, circa 1810-15. This resplendent painting is an exemplary model of the extensive canon of life-size portraits commissioned by the monarch. The painting is in fact a double portrait with the unique addition of a youth alongside the ruler, thought to be Muhammad Mirza, Fath 'Ali Shah's grandson, son of Crown Prince Abbas Mirza. This work represents the most important Persian royal painting to appear on the market in decades.
Further noteworthy pieces in the sale originally formed part of two separate old European private collections. From France comes a collection of ceramic lustre tiles and beautiful 16th-century Shahnameh leaves assembled in the 1920s, whilst from Italy comes a fantastic group of Hispano-Moresque lustre pottery from 15th-century Andalusia.
Other parts of the Islamic world are also represented in the sale, especially Turkey and the artistic traditions of the Ottoman Empire. Of particular note are twenty-seven 19th-century watercolour portraits of the Ottoman Sultans, an Iznik tile depicting the Ka'ba in Mecca, dated 1677-78, an Imperial 16th-century jade archer's ring and an exceptional leather document holder made for French commander Victor Maurice de Riquet de Caraman-Chimays, dated 1781.