A portrait of Suleyman the Magnificent and a selection of precious gem-set and enamelled jewels from India make up an Arts of the Islamic World auction.
A number of important early manuscripts, including a fascinating miniature Qur’an on vellum (10th century AD) and an early copy of Al-Hariri’s Maqamat(13th century AD) are also included at the auction at Sotheby’s.
A rare Iznik ‘Golden Horn’ Pottery Dish, Turkey, circa 1530 (illustrated above, est. £300,000-500,000) represents an opportunity to acquire one of the last examples of the unusual style remaining in private hands.
Last offered at Sotheby’s in 1986 – when it was also the cover of the catalogue – the remarkable piece has remained in a private collection since.
The wares take their name from a waterway on the southern shores of Istanbul, after a selection of fragments discovered in the early twentieth century during excavations. One of the most famous pieces of ‘Golden Horn’ is the Godman Flask, dating 1529, which is in the collection of the British Museum.
A portrait of Suleyman the Magnificent (circa 1520), by a follower of Gentile Bellini, likely commissioned by Venetian diplomats Andrea Gritti or his son Alvise Gritti. (£250,000-350,000).
When he came to power in 1520, Suleyman II inherited a vast empire and was responsible for turning Constantinople, now Istanbul, into an important intellectual centre. He became known locally as ‘the Lawgiver’, due to his important legal reformations, and provoked fascination in Europe through his military conquests, prodigious administrative restructuring and keen artistic patronage.
One of the few Western images of an Eastern potentate by a European artist, this landmark portrait of Suleyman the Magnificent likely served as a primary source of inspiration for many later portraits, drawings, prints and medals of the Sultan.
Six of the lots offered in the sale belong to the family of Hari Singh Nalwa, a ‘leading light’ of the Sikh Empire. Hari Singh earned a formidable reputation through his military exploits, expanding Sikh territories and restoring order. His prowess in both waging war and forging peace is memorialised in the city of Haripur, Pakistan, which bears the name of the great commander to this day.
A fine and rare miniature Qur’an on vellum (pictured as main image above), North Africa, Near East or Persia, 10th century AD (est. £70,000-90,000)
This fascinating miniature manuscript is an extremely rare and early example of Eastern Kufic script written in a vertical format on vellum.
Nur Al-Din ‘Abd Al’Rahman Jami, Yusuf wa Zulaykha, signed by Mir ‘Ali, Bukhara, Shaybanid, dated 1531-32 AD (est. £60,000-80,000)
One of the greatest mystical love stories of the Islamic world, Yusuf and Zulaykha is known throughout world literature – with a plethora of poets recounting and embellishing the tale of a virtuous young man who resists the advances of an older woman.
This exceptional copy was written by a calligrapher who had moved to the vibrant city of Bukhara, which flourished and became a centre of political and intellectual life under the patronage of the ruler Obayd Khan. It is likely that the elegant work was transferred to the Safavid court, where two quatrains in praise of its fine hand were added by two of the most famous nasta’liq masters at the court of Shah Tahmasp.
You can view the full catalogue here