Islamic art auction in London

Islamic art auction in London

Islamic art auction in London Following two auctions of Islamic and Indian art in April and October 2015, Bonhams auction house will organize another auction of Islamic and Indian art in London on April 19, featuring exceptional items in several categories. The 315-lot sale includes pieces of outstanding quality in glassware and ceramics, calligraphy and miniature painting, sculpture, bronze, carpets and textiles.

Oliver White, the head of Indian and Islamic art at Bonhams, said: “In the last two to three years, demand in the Islamic and Indian art market has become more discriminating and focused on the best pieces in each area. The Indian and Islamic art sale meets this demand, with lots including a 17th-century İznik tile depicting the holy city of Mecca, a rare album of calligraphy by the famous scribe Yaqut Al-Musta’simi from 13th century Baghdad and a fine silk Heriz carpet from the last quarter of the 19th century among the highlights.”

The İznik pottery tile depicting the Kaaba and the Masjid Al-Haram in Mecca, which is estimated at £50,000-60,000, ($71,000-$85,000), is comparable to tiles in the world’s most famous collections of Islamic art, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Louvre, the British Museum, the Benaki Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The tile stands apart from most published examples, however, due to the prominent use of vibrant green coloring.

A rare album of calligraphic exercises by famous scribe Yaqut al-Musta’simi from late-13th Century Baghdad is estimated at £100,000-200,000 ($142,000-$284,000). 

Al-Musta’simi is perhaps the most celebrated of all Islamic calligraphers. Thought to have been brought to Baghdad as a slave, he later became official secretary of the last Abbasid caliph. The album of 15 leaves of calligraphic exercises featured in the Bonhams auction was illuminated with gold in Persia during the 16th century.   

Alongside a fine silk Heriz carpet from late 19th-century Persia, another highlight among the textiles on offer is a 19th-century Ottoman red silk military banner, estimated at £30,000-40,000 ($42,600-$56,800).     

Other lots to note include a rare Timurid carved marble panel from mid-15th century Central Asia. This marble piece is a masterpiece of Timurid design and carving and stands among the most exceptional extant pieces of Timurid marble. 

The auction also includes a rare openwork bronze incense burner from Spain (10th-12th century), a fine Kashan silhouette-ware pottery vase, made in Persia in the late 12th century, an Abbasid luster pottery vase from 10th century Mesopotamia, an Illuminated Quran, including the Falnama from Timurid or Safavid Persia (15th or 16th century) and an unusual painting of two cranes standing in a pool circa 1370-1380 from either Mesopotamia or Tabriz. 

Among 20 İznik pottery dishes included in the auction, one produced circa 1580 is particularly remarkable for its rich decorative motif of an interlacing arabesque whorl surrounded by ten mihrab-shaped panels. 

In April 2015, Bonhams secured nearly 50 percent of the market share during Indian and Islamic auction week when its sale containing weapons from the armory of Tipu Sultan, made more than £7.4 million ($10.5 million).