Select Works from the L.A. Mayer Museum for Islamic Art | Jerusalem

Live Auction: 27 October 2020 • 10:30 AM GMT • London
Select Works from the L.A. Mayer Museum for Islamic Art | Jerusalem 27 October 2020 • 10:30 AM GMT • London

W e are honoured to present Select Works from the L.A. Mayer Museum for Islamic Art | Jerusalem as a dedicated single owner sale in London on October 27th. The works on offer range from early Qur’an leaves to Ottoman textiles, pottery from across the Islamic lands, silver-inlaid metalwork, as well as exceptional examples of Islamic arms and armour. A group of fine rugs and carpets is also included in the sale. The exhibition will take place in London from October 24th to 26th.


Featured Highlights

A Brief History of the L.A. Mayer Museum for Islamic Art

Encompassing the breadth of the Islamic World at its height, with multifarious media spanning three continents, from Spain to South East Asia over almost a millennium and a half, the L.A. Mayer Museum for Islamic Art is a jewel located at very heart of the Islamic World, in the Holy City of Jerusalem.

Vera Bryce Salomons (1888-1969)

Since it first opened its doors to the public in 1974, the L.A. Mayer Museum has held true to its founding principle of promoting cultural dialogue through the appreciation of art. Home to world-renowned collections of Islamic art and watches, the museum is a unique institution founded by philanthropist Vera Bryce Salomons (1888-1969), whose family history tells a story of enlightened activism in the cause of social justice beginning in the 19th century with Vera’s great-uncle Sir David Salomons (1797-1873).

Professor Leo Aryeh Mayer (1895-1959)

Conscious of the absence of places for the public to see works of Islamic art, Salomons set out to establish the L.A. Mayer Museum for Islamic Art, naming it after her friend and teacher Professor Leo Aryeh Mayer (1895-1959), the distinguished scholar and professor of Islamic art and archaeology. Like Salomons, Mayer was a true believer in the relevance of Islamic culture and its ability to aid peaceful coexistence between Jewish and Arab peoples. Vera Salomons enlisted the help of Professor Richard Ettinghausen to build the museum’s collection. One of the towering figures in the field of Islamic art in the 20th century, he published over 200 papers on Islamic art and architecture over a career spanning more than 40 years, and served as the chief curator at the Freer Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

Professor Richard Ettinghausen (1906 – 1979)

The 12 years he spent collaborating with Salomons on the museum’s acquisitions between 1965 and 1979 are reflected today in a wealth of pieces from across the Islamic geographical arc, hand-picked from the great auctions and art dealers of the period, notable for their quality, provenance and academic interest.

The cosmopolitanism of Salomons, Mayer and Ettinghausen is very much in evidence today, not only in the museum’s holdings, but also in its cultural activities, exhibitions – including the juxtaposition of contemporary and classical art – as well as in its educational initiatives.

Anatomy of an Artwork
An early Iznik blue and white calligraphic pottery hanging ornament, Turkey, circa 1480

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  • Colour

    Characterised by an intense, inky, blue-black colouring reflect the earliest stage of firing control, before the use of underglaze cobalt blue had been fully mastered by the potters. The same phenomenon occurs in early Chinese blue and white porcelain of the early fourteenth century, resulting in the same ‘heaped and piled’ effect witnessed here. It took roughly two decades before a brighter and clearer blue was achieved.

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  • Inscription
    Early Iznik Blue Candlestick with Inscriptions of the Quran

    The central band features chapters from the Qur’an. Of the surviving Iznik pieces from this period, only three include calligraphy from the Qur’an, including the present piece. The other two are a charger in the Musée du Louvre, Paris, and a candlestick sold in these rooms, 29 April 1993.

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  • Decoration

    Each band of design finds parallels in book illumination of the period. The outer bands are filled with interlacing Rumi-Hatayi motifs, the names given to the ‘Selcuk’ arabesque decoration and Chinoiserie floral scrolls respectively. These are inherited from contemporary illumination, indicating the influence of the innermost workings of the Imperial chancery and legitimate the assertion of sultanic patronage for Iznik of this period.

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  • Date

    This hanging ornament belongs to the earliest group of Iznik, produced during the reigns of Mehmet II (‘the Conqueror’, r.1451-81) and his son, Bayezid II (r.1481-1512).

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  • Use

    Traditionally used within mosques or tombs, ovoid ornaments such as this would have hung on a suspension chain above the hanging lamps or at their level. Historians relate that from the earliest centuries of Islam it was the custom of rulers to send valuable ornaments to be hung at the Ka’ba in Mecca and the Tomb of the Prophet in medina.

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Ceramics through Time

We are pleased to include a beautiful and colourful selection of ceramics in this sale, including tiles, animal figurines, bowls, jugs and many more.

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Fine Rugs & Carpets

This sale also includes a fine selection of selection of rugs and carpets spanning several centuries and geographies.

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Arms and Armour through the Ages

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  • 55. A rare and important silver-inlaid Aqqoyunlu turban helmet, Turkey or Persia, second half 15th century

    This helmet, characterised by its large yet elegant, domical shape with a band of gently curving flutes resembling the folds of a turban, is inlaid with important inscriptions in silver which stand out strongly in contrast to the base. This form is a type associated with both Ottoman Sultans and the Aqqoyunlu rulers and was also representative of the rank or religious order of the wearer.

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  • 56. A set of Ottoman or Aqqoyunlu silver-inlaid armour with chainmail coat, breastplate, knee and leg-guards, Turkey or Persia, 15th century

    Look closely and you will notice that each chain mail is inscribed with the names ‘Allah, Muhammad, ‘Ali, Fatima, Hasan, Husayn’ in order to further protect the wearer.

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  • 59. An Aqqoyunlu silver-inlaid steel turban helmet, Persia, possibly Tabriz, 15th century

    Although this is an Aqqoyunlu helmet from Persia, the Eirene arsenal mark which is engraved on its front indicates that it has been through the weapons storage room used in the Topkapi Palace, Istanbul, until the past century.

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  • 60. An Ottoman silver-inlaid helmet with chainmail, Egypt or Turkey, 15th / 16th century

    The elongated shape of the helmet is comparable to a Mamluk helmet in the Louvre Museum, Paris, inv.no. 6130, which was made for Sultan Barsbay. However, its decoration is more reminiscent of the Ottoman decorative repertoire of the sixteenth century.

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  • 101. A carved ivory and lac-inlaid powder horn, India, Rajasthan, 19th century

    This powder horn in the form of a stylised fish is elegantly decorated with floral motifs.

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  • 103. A Mughal jade horse head hilt, India, 18th/ 19th century

    Zoomorphic hilts for swords and daggers were popular in the Mughal period. This realistically rendered jade hilt in the form of a horse’s head is a fine example of Mughal craftsmanship.

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  • 104. An Ottoman jade-hilted dagger with openwork blade and nielloed silver scabbard, bearing the tughra of Mehmed IV (r.1648-87), Turkey, 17th century

    The precise attention to detail and refinement of the nielloed design covering the entire surface of this dagger’s scabbard is worthy of the finest illuminations, recalling courtly Ottoman production of the early sixteenth century.

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  • 109. A fine Ottoman tombak chamfron, Turkey, 16th/ 17th century

    The horse played a seminal role in the rise of the Ottoman empire from the fifteenth century onwards. The cavalry was critical to the Ottoman war machine serving as the vanguard of their military campaigns. The present tombak chamfron alludes to the grandeur of this imperial martial tradition.

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  • 128. An Ottoman dagger with turban-form ivory hilt, Turkey, early 19th century

    The turban form of the ivory hilt, with remnants of green paint, is unusual and noteworthy.

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  • 161. A fine set of Qajar gold-damascened armour, including a helmet, shield and armguard, Persia, 19th century

    These are particularly fine examples of Qajar armour worn for ceremonial occasions, such as parades or by palace guards. The existence of only one armguard was the habit as the other arm was protected by the shield.

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