The highest results achieved in this April’s Arts of the Islamic World sale were for three Qur’anic calligraphic pages, each uniquely expressive of the breath and luxuriousness accorded to the sacred text in the Islamic World. The top price went for a finely decorated Qur’an leaf in eastern Kufic script from Persia or Central Asia, dated circa 1075-1125 AD, characterised by its angular script of truly inventive design. Another leading Qur’an leaf was from the famed ‘Blue Qur’an’ from the tenth century, renowned for its luxurious composition of deep blue dyed vellum and gold leaf, marking it out as one of the most opulent Qur’ans ever produced. These were complemented by a leaf written in the earliest Qur’anic script, known as Hijazi script, on vellum, from the second half of the seventh century. These strong results demonstrate the iconic status of Qur’anic text as a symbol of Islamic culture.
The first 49 lots of the sale, belonging to a private French collection formed in Alexandria in the early twentieth century and comprised of metalwork from Spain through North Africa to Syria, Egypt, Persia and Afghanistan, as well as ceramics, wood, weapons and textiles, were almost all sold, attesting to collectors desires for works of art previously unseen on the market and with an exceptional provenance. The overall success of the sale was highlighted by the interest from both private and institutional buyers from Europe, Turkey, the MENA region, Asia and America, a testament to the far-reaching artistic legacy of the Islamic world.
Joining with the Orientalist department for another consecutive year, our Arts of the Islamic World auction will take place in London on 22 April 2015 as part of Sotheby’s Orientalist & Islamic week. One of the highlights of this April’s Islamic art sale is a leaf from the blue Qur’an. Composed of vellum dyed in a rich blue colour and written using gold leaf, it would have formed part of one of the most luxurious Qur’ans ever produced in the early medieval period.