Auction Highlights: Arts of the Islamic World

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Launch Slideshow

From beautiful ceramic wares to refined Indian miniature paintings, the works offered in the upcoming Arts of the Islamic World sale (25 April, London) represent more than 1200 years of artistic development. The auction also features Arab, Persian and Turkish manuscripts, including including three highly important and early works on optics, astronomy and mathematics that reflect the scholarly ‘golden age’ of medieval Arab advancement. Click ahead to discover highlights from the sale.

Arts of the Islamic World
25 April 2018 | London

Auction Highlights: Arts of the Islamic World

  • An Iznik blue and white pottery pilgrim flask with animals, Turkey, circa 1545-55.
    Estimate £60,000–80,000.
    This flask appears to be the only known example of an Iznik flask of this distinctive shape - one side is slightly concave whilst the other convex, with a little boss. Decorated in the early blue and turquoise of the mid-sixteenth century with a fantastical mix of animals, it is one of the earliest instances in which this design, which was later to become so popular, appears.

  • A rare and finely decorated Qur’an leaf in eastern Kufic script, Persia or Central Asia, circa 1075-1125 AD.
    Estimate £220,000–280,000.
    This folio is an example of one of the most striking and beautiful Qur'anic scripts. It originates from a Qur'an of majestic elegance and breathtaking graphic power, and the decoration of the background of the entire text area throughout the manuscript marks it out as one of the most luxuriously decorated Qur'ans of the medieval period. The original manuscript was produced in thirty volumes, each containing around seventy-five leaves, giving a total of approximately 2,250 leaves (Saint Laurent 1989). It must have been a truly majestic sight.

  • A set of monumental Timurid cut tile mosaic panels, Central Asia or Persia, 14th/15th century.
    This is a rare example of cut-mosaic tilework from Greater Iran and the Timurid empire of the fourteenth/fifteenth century. Each of these pieces were designed in faience mosaic which involves fitting small sections of ceramic tiles together that are then held in place by mortar. Reaching its height under Timurid patronage, this technique gave craftsmen greater flexibility in their compositions. This group creates a sense of the monumental grandeur and striking visual impact which could be achieved using this expensive and laborious method.

    VIEW LOTS 106 , 107 , 108 , 109 AND 110
  • Kamal al-Din al-Hasan ibn 'Ali ibn al-Hasan al-Farisi, Kitab tanqih al-manazir li dhawi al-absar wa’l-basair ('The Book of Correction of Optics for those who have Sight and Mind'), autograph copy, Persia, probably Tabriz, dated 708 AH/1309 AD.
    Estimate £250,000–350,000.
    This early autograph copy of Al-Farisi's landmark work is of exceptional historical importance, drawing on the work of Ibn al-Haytham, and the earlier Greek scholars Euclid, Ptolemy, Aristotle and Galen, and covers various elements of optics, the physics of the eye, as well as light, vision, reflection, refraction, and various mathematical and geometrical theories. A remarkable cross-sectional diagram may be the earliest known illustration of the human eye.

  • An exceptional silk samite shirt with ducks, Central Asia, Sogdiana, 7th-9th century.
    Estimate £300,000–500,000.
    An indicator of wealth and rank, this shirt would have served an important function in the context of trade and diplomacy. Today, it provides a rare glimpse into an important civilization that left an imprint on empires spreading over multiple continents and for many subsequent centuries. 

  • An illuminated Hilye, signed by Mahmud Celaleddin (d.1829), Turkey, Ottoman, dated 1202 AH/1787-88 AD.
    Estimate £10,000–15,000.
    Mahmud Celaleddin Effendi was one of the most important calligraphers in Turkey at the end of the 18th century. Much beloved by Sultan Abdülmecid (r.1839-61), he developed quite a distinctive style, closely related to the calligraphy of Karahisari or Ya’qut al-Mustasimi, rather than Sheikh Hamdullah who was popular at the time. This impressive hilye is in excellent condition and a magnificent example of this master calligrapher.

  • Lovers meeting at night, North India, provincial Mughal, second half 18th century.
    Estimate £10,000–15,000.
    From the celebrated collection of H.K. Monif (d.1968), New York, 1940s, thence by descent, this is a beautiful Mughal painting expressing a popular subject, the meeting of lovers.

  • A portrait of Khosrow Parviz, circle of Mihr Ali, Persia, Qajar, dated 1217 AH/1802-03 AD.
    Estimate £25,000–35,000.
    Khosrow Parviz , the last great king of the Sassanian empire, is depicted in this portrait wearing a finely-embroidered dress adorned with pearls and precious stones, typical of the Fath 'Ali Shah period in which the work was executed (1217 AH/1802-03 AD).

  • Shaykh Muhammad ibn Mustafa al-Misri, Tuhfet ul-Mulk (a Turkish translation of Ruju al-shaykh ila sibah, ‘A Shaykh remembers his youth’), Turkey or Balkans, dated 1232 AH/1817 AD.
    Estimate £250,000–350,000.
    This exceptionally rare manuscript is one of the most lavish copies of an erotic manual ever produced in Ottoman Turkey. Its large size, the use of expensive materials, and large amount of high quality paintings all point towards a high class of patron but also suggest that there was a market for erotic manuscripts throughout the Ottoman period. The hypothesis that it actually bears within it portraits of its patron is a unique feature found nowhere else in the known corpus of Ottoman illustrated literature.

  • A fine Mamluk silver-inlaid cast brass bowl, Egypt or Syria, first half 14th century.
    Estimate £60,000–80,000.
    Most probably commissioned by a high-ranking officer at the Mamluk court, this bowl is an exceptional example of Mamluk metalwork and is inscribed with formulaic phrases and blessings ending with ‘officer of al-Malik al-Nasir’.

  • A pair of large gem-set earrings with seed pearls, India, late 19th/early 20th century.
    Estimate £5,000–8,000.
    Stylistically, these earrings share a similar design with a nose-ring (balu) in the National Museum, New Delhi (inv. no.87.1168), attributed to Himachal Pradesh, early twentieth century (Krishan and Kumar 2001, p.177, no.276).

  • A Mughal or Ottoman shagreen and gem-set hilted dagger and scabbard, India or Turkey, 18th/19th century.
    Estimate £4,000–6,000.
    This opulent dagger , with pink and red gemstones and green-stained shagreen set with gilt mounts, was probably meant to be used for a ceremonial purpose or as a diplomatic gift. An almost identical example is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

  • An Iznik polychrome pottery dish, Turkey, circa 1570-80.
    Estimate £8,000–12,000.
    This beautiful cobalt blue, green and relief red pottery dish with thin black outlines features a central bouquet of carnations surrounded by prunus and hyacinth stems with a breaking wave motif rim.

  • An Ottoman wood and ivory-inlaid scribe's chest, signed Muhammad, Turkey, dated 1112 AH/1700 AD.
    Estimate £30,000–40,000.
    This impressive casket is finely inlaid with ivory, mother of pearl and different types of wood creating different geometrical shapes and patterns. One of the most interesting aspects is that it bears a signature of the maker – Muhammad - and a date – 1112 AH/1700AD, meaning it was considered a precious piece already at the time it was made.
  • A silver cooling vessel (karlik), Russia, for the Ottoman market, 19th century.
    Estimate £18,000–25,000.
    While this vessel only features Russian silver marks, it's form is distinctly Ottoman (see lot 179). A close comparable was sold in these rooms, 20 April 2016, lot 192, with the tughra of Abdülhamid II (r.1876-1909), and crest of 'Abbas Hilmi Pasha (1874-1944), demonstrating the appreciation for such pieces by the Ottoman elite. This vessel may have been made for the Turkish market, or used by a local Russian elite that admired the exotic Ottoman shape.

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