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38

Charles Louis Müller

Sultana Reading the Holy Qur'an

Charles Louis Müller

Charles Louis Müller

Sultana Reading the Holy Qur'an

Sultana Reading the Holy Qur'an

Charles Louis Müller

French

1815 - 1892

Sultana Reading the Holy Qur'an


signed Ch.L. Müller upper left

oil on canvas

Unframed: 96 by 79cm., 37¾ by 31in.

Framed: 124.5 by 108cm., 49 by 42½in.

The canvas has been lined and is providing a strong and stable support to the paint surface. There is a pattern of craquelure which in some places is visible upon closer inspection. At raking light there is a faint upper and central stretcher bar mark. Otherwise the work is in good condition, ready to hang. Examination under ultra-violet light reveals some thin flecks of infilling and retouching, notably to the background, and some to the chair and her sleeves and a small area to the lower left corner. There is some tiny flecks of retouching to her forehead, lips and eye area, and just below her scarf near her ear. An uneven varnish fluoresces in places.


"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."

Sale: Sotheby's, Amsterdam, 22 April 1997, lot 12
Purchased at the above sale by the previous owner
The present work depicts a Sultana reading the holy Qur’an. Müller has painted her wearing a pearl necklace, earrings and gold hair clip complete with a furred kaftan and silk scarf. There is a richly embroidered velvet wall hanging behind her and she is seated on a carved armchair with a large red velvet cushion, probably in the imperial Harem. The furred kaftan, which had a special place and meaning in court ceremony, indicates her imperial status.

The illuminated Qur’an in her lap also indicates her wealth since only members of the ruling elite could own such precious manuscripts. Müller has painted the illumination and textual organisation of the frontispiece of the Qur’an manuscript with great accuracy. The lines of the Arabic text are depicted in the lower half of the page, surrounded by illumination in gold and blue. The crown illumination and border decoration has also been captured.

A remarkably close page design, illuminated in gold and blue, can be seen in the Qur’an manuscript in the Khalili Collection, London (inv. no. QUR 258). Please see, Manijeh Bayani, Anna Contadini, Tim Stanley, The Decorated Word: Qur’an of the 17th to 19th Centuries, The Nour Foundation, Oxford University Press, 1999, p. 169.