Beijing to Istanbul: Designer Charles Clarke Picks His Highlights

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Launch Slideshow

The Beijing to Istanbul online sale spans the fabled trade routes which ran from the Far East to Europe, taking in exceptional works of art from Persia, China and India along the way. Ahead of the launch, we asked Charles Clarke, founder and Head Designer of creative studio Balzar London to pick his highlights from the sale. Charles is currently working on his furniture and accessories collection, in collaboration with Ivan Pun’s company, Paribawga, launching 2017. Click ahead as the designer, whose signature style combines a traditional approach with contemporary living standards, offers his unique insight into his favourite lots.

Beijing to Istanbul: Paintings & Works of Art Online
21 November - 5 December | Online

Beijing to Istanbul: Designer Charles Clarke Picks His Highlights

  • A Russet-Splashed Black-Glazed Bowl, Song Dynasty.
    Estimate £2,000–3,000.
    Ceramics are having their moment of late and it is amazing that the process used to create this bowl remains largely unchanged today. Finished in layers of russet splashes and a deep black glaze, it is typical of the era which saw significant experimentation for ceramics as kilns became more widespread. The subdued tones give the bowl a rustic charm, while still appearing distinctly modern.

  • A Shirvan Karagashli long rug, East Caucasus, circa 1860.
    Estimate £2,000–3,000.
    It is getting increasingly difficult to source Shriven rugs in this style. Early examples, up to the turn of the 19th century, are the most requested by clients due to their elemental simplicity and ability to utilise a limited colour palette to maximum effect. This is a great example that showcases the classic signatures such as intricate detailing woven in a geometric pattern while remaining balanced and symmetrical.

  • A monumental brass tray, probably Syria or Western Armenia, circa 1900. Estimate £3,000–5,000.
    This monumental brass tray is one of my favourite pieces from this auction. Heavily inscribed pieces such as this would have taken months to for a master craftsman to produce. This is all the more impressive when you consider that each of the lines and points, no more than half a millimetre deep, would have been expertly hammered by hand. Being made from brass, one of my favourite materials to use, gives it the advantage of gaining a beautiful patina as it ages. This is a highly desired quality which adds depth to the overall aesthetic and it’s one I wish I owned!

  • A Large Ottoman Green-Ground Calligraphic Silk Lampas Panel, Turkey, 19th Century. Estimate £6,000–8,000.
    The level of intricacy in this wall hanging is incredible. I love the way that the artist has used calligraphy to form the chevron pattern, adding further detail with the off white larger inscriptions. Ottoman wall hangings were considered the most elegant textiles produced by the Islamic world and examples such as this were gifted only to the very wealthy. The beautiful flowing Arabic script, detailing passages from the Qur’an, are woven in light green and cream and framed by a deep teal. This colour is a personal favourite of mine as well as the chevron pattern used for the design.

  • Sarkis Mangasaryan, Ararat by Sunset. Estimate £3,000–5,000.
    I love the juxtaposition between the traditional Armenian backdrop of water buffalo and Mount Ararat and the contemporary approach that the artist uses to capture the scene. The minimal use of colour combined with bold brushstrokes gives this landscape a fresh and vibrant feel.

  • A Sewan Kazak Rug, West Caucasus, Second Half 19th Century.
    Estimate £4,000–6,000.
    I often begin an interior scheme with the rug as they act as a great reference point from which to draw inspiration. This example, richly presented in earthy tones and contrasted by the cerulean borders, is a classic Sewan Kazak (which must include the central ‘shield’ medallion seen in the centre of the design). As these rugs are produced using thicker wools than those in the Eastern Caucasus, this would be ideal for a grand entrance hall.

  • A Silver-Inlaid Bidri "Magic" Bowl, Bidar, Deccan, India, 19th Century. Estimate £900–1,000.
    One of the elements I look for when sourcing antiques, in addition to the aesthetic qualities, is the story behind the piece. Here, the elegant inscriptions detail verses from the Qur’an, which reveal its original use in Islamic medicine popularised in the early 12th century. This rich provenance twinned with the bowl’s arresting black and silver tones really makes it stand out. This would make a great addition to any collection and although small, makes for a wonderful conversation piece.

  • Frederick Arthur Bridgman, Cheval à la Fontaine.
    Estimate £15,000–20,000.
    Whilst normally I prefer more contemporary art, I was drawn to this painting as it reminds me of similar ones owned by my grandparents. Renowned for his Orientalist paintings, this scene bears many similarities to Bridgman’s most noted work: A Street Scene in Algeria. Both his striking use of colour and biographical nature of the subject matter, key signatures of his, are evident here. The combination of these elements, alongside my childhood memories, were the reason behind this selection.

  • An Indian Colonial Silver Coffee Percolator, Bodraj, Aurungabad, circa 1850. Estimate £800–1,200.
    I have always held a special interest in India and the Far East as my mother’s family has a history in both areas going back to the early 1800s. Silver items, such as this coffee percolator, would have been common place and allows us to glimpse the elegant formality of colonial British life at the time. I love the idea of starting my day with a coffee poured from a monogrammed, silver percolator and hope whoever purchases this lot feels the same way.

  • A Blue and White ‘Mythical Beast’ Jar, Qing Dynasty, Shunzhi Period. Estimate £4,000–6,000.
    This jar, decorated in the iconic blue and white, is a classic example and reminded me of a recent exhibition I went to showing the latest work by British artist, Felicity Aylieff. While her pieces are more contemporary in design, she was no doubt inspired by similar tones present in the works produced during the Shunzhi period. My favourite element though has to be the elaborate detailing of clouds that frame a variety of ‘mythical beasts’ by which the piece is so named.

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