A portrait of Suleyman the Magnificent, by a follower of Gentile Bellini, Italy, probably Venice, circa 1520. Estimate 250,000 — 350,000 GBP. Photo Sotheby’s
LONDON.- In order to celebrate the rich traditions of Indian and Islamic art, Sotheby’s has mounted ‘Indian and Islamic Week’, a high profile series of public exhibitions and three dedicated auctions presenting the works of renowned artists and craftsmen from the Indian Subcontinent and the Islamic world. These exciting initiatives will take place at Sotheby’s in London from 3 – 8 October 2014. The sales comprise Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art on 7 October, and Art of Imperial India and Arts of the Islamic World on 8 October. The combined estimate across the three sales is £11,200,000-16,000,000.
Yamini Mehta, Sotheby’s International Director, Indian and South Asian Art, Benedict Carter, Sotheby’s Head of Auction Sales, Middle East and Indian Art, commented: “We are thrilled that Sotheby’s reach with its clients from across India, the Middle East and beyond will advance to a new stage this autumn when we mount the inaugural ‘Indian and Islamic Week’ in London. Through this endeavour, featuring the very best of fine and decorative arts from India and the Islamic World spanning 1500 years, the company’s unrivalled global network continues to serve our clients by providing world-class collecting and educational experiences. We are proud that with this series of three dedicated sales, we will further demonstrate Sotheby’s ability to enhance the growing dialogue of cultural exchange across these regions.”
MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY SOUTH ASIAN ART 7 OCTOBER 2014
Sotheby’s India and Islamic Week will present Tyeb Mehta’s Blue Painting, 1982, an exquisite work painted in overlapping planes of complementary blues. The classic image of the female body, depicted with an economy of line, radiates calm and transcendence, with its blues of the sea, sky, and night in a composition that is pure harmony in azure, cerulean, and sapphire. Inspired by international artists as varied as Barnett Newman, Kazimir Malevich, Henri Matisse and Yves Klein, during Mehta’s years abroad in the 1950s-60s, this is a rare and contemplative painting that is a departure from his themes of suffering and angst. Yet it still is an exploration of the human condition in its most elemental form. This key work by the towering Indian modernist was once owned by Tyeb Mehta’s friend and fellow Mumbai artist, Bal Chhabra. Chhabra was a great patron who financially supported his artist friends and created a fine personal collection that included some of India’s greatest masterpieces. Blue Painting has since been in the famed collection of the Glenbarra Art Museum in Japan. It is estimated at £600,000-800,000.
Priyanka Mathew, Head of Sales and Auctioneer, Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art, Sotheby’s, notes, « The poetic drama and beauty of Blue Painting, 1982, has an immediate visual impact, that becomes all the more awe-inspiring when viewed in person. As the auctioneer for the sale, I feel deeply privileged to have guided Blue Painting into Sotheby’s and hope that collectors the world over will appreciate its beauty and fight to own it. »
Tyeb Mehta (1925-2009), BLUE PAINTING. Signed and dated ‘Tyeb / 82’ on reverse. Oil on canvas; 115 by 90 cm. (45 ¼ by 35 ½ in.). Painted in 1982. Estimate 600,000 — 800,000GBP. Photo Sotheby’s
Another milestone in the history of Modern Indian art is Padamsee’s Prophet I, 1952, estimated at £150,000-200,000. This painting is the first from the artist’s revered “prophet” series, which evolved with each successive edition. A year earlier, the artist had moved to Paris, where he was inspired by the art he saw in the city’s galleries and museums, and influenced not only by the Modern masters – Picasso, Rouault, Braque and Chagall – but also by tribal works of art, and in particular the African masks that he saw in the Musée de l’Homme. This is the first time the work has come to the market, having remained in private hands since shortly after it was completed. Professor Gyenes, a patron of the arts who lived in Paris during the 1950s and 60s, acquired the painting directly from the artist in 1954.
Akbar Padamsee (b. 1928), PROPHET I. Signed and dated ‘Padamsee / 52’ upper left. Oil on board, 90 by 58.2 cm (35 ⅜ by 22 ⅞ in.). Painted in 1952. Estimate 150,000 — 200,000GBP. Photo Sotheby’s
The auction is sprinkled with delightful works coming from private collections that are completely fresh to the market. The William and Mildred Archer Collection comprises two works by Indian National treasure, Rabindranath Tagore and a group of 15 Kalighat paintings. The Archers were pre-eminent Indian art historians of the twentieth century with William Archer serving as a longstanding curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum. A rare Jamini Roy work on canvas, depicting Krishna with a parrot and estimated at £15,000-20,000, comes with the storied provenance of writer, E.M. Forster. Originally handled by famed London dealer, Victor Musgrave at his Gallery One, are two powerful works by Francis Newton Souza. Souza is the intellectual founder of the Progressive Art Group post-Independent India. Profile, 1957 (estimate £80,000-120,000) and Head (estimate £50,000-70,000) are two prime examples of the artist’s work at the peak of his career coming from British collections.
Contemporary artists of today are also featured with significant examples of works by Pakistani artists, Rashid Rana and Imran Qureshi as well as British Indian artist, Bharti Kher. Mrinalini Mukherjee’s hemp sculptures are difficult to source. Only one other has ever appeared at auction. Sotheby’s is proud to showcase Deity, a larger than life-sized work from a French collection and estimated at £60,000-80,000. The artist is in the collection of the Tate Museums and is currently being featured in the 10th Gwanju Biennial.
Mrinalini Mukherjee (B. 1949), SRI (DEITY). Woven hemp fibre. Height: 240 cm. (94 ½ in.); Width: 85 cm. (33 ½ in.); Depth: 60 cm. (23 ⅝ in.); Weight: 24 kg. (52.9 lb.). Executed in 1982. Estimate 60,000 — 80,000 GBP. Photo Sotheby’s
ARTS OF THE ISLAMIC WORLD 8 OCTOBER 2014
Bringing together manuscripts, paintings and works of art created under Islamic patronage over eleven centuries, Arts of the Islamic World provides an opportunity for collectors and institutions to acquire beautiful and sought-after pieces.
From the collections of the Dukes of Northumberland is an extremely well- preserved leaf from a 16th-century copy of Sa’di’s Gulistan, attributed to the famed courtly artist Mahmud Muzahhib. Depicting ‘the captured Arab robbers before the King’, this rare discovery is estimated to bring £60,000-80,000.
An illustrated and illuminated leaf from a copy of Sa’di’s Gulistan: the captured Arab robbers before the King, ascribed to Mahmud Muzahhib, Bukhara, mid-16th century. Estimate 60,000 — 80,000 GBP. Photo Sotheby’s
gouache heightened with gold on paper, three lines of elegant nasta’liq script in black ink in top right hand corner, the reverse with twelve lines of nasta’liq within margins ruled in colours and gold with a border decorated in gold with foliate scrolls and animal-head terminals; painting: 29.7 by 18.2cm; leaf: 34.2 by 21.8cm.
PROVENANCE: Probably acquired by Henry Algernon George Percy, Earl Percy (1871-1909), who travelled extensively in the near East and Africa, thence by descent.
SOLD BY ORDER OF THE 12TH DUKE OF NORTHUMBERLAND AND THE TRUSTEES OF THE NORTHUMBERLAND ESTATES
NOTES: Mahmud Muzahhib (literally ‘Mahmud the illuminator’) is regarded as one of the leading artists of the sixteenth-century Bukhara school. Following the fall of the Timurid Empire as a result of the conquest of Samarqand by the Shaybanid Dynasty, the shift of power and artistic production moved first to Samarqand and then to Bukhara. Muzahhib played an important role in the establishment of this new kitabkhaneh (library-book production atelier) under the Shaybanids and was influential in the transmission of styles from the Timurid ateliers traditionally established in Herat to Bukhara. A contemporary account by Mirza Muhammad Haydar Dughlat notes that “Under ‘Ubaydullah Khan, Bukhara has become such a centre of arts and sciences that it recalls Herat in the days of Mirza Sultan Husayn” (B. Gray, The Arts of the Book in Central Asia, London, 1979, p.264).
Mahmud Muzahhib is most recognised for his paintings, and notably his illustrations on numerous manuscripts taken from Herat by the Shaybanids including a copy of Jami’s Tuhfat al-Ahrar copied in 905 AH/1499-1500 AD by Sultan ‘Ali Mashhadi now in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris (Supplement Persan 1416). He is also known for his other accomplishments in the arts of the book, and often worked in collaboration with other calligraphers, illuminators and artists. Eleven folios now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art testify to his calligraphic skills, and he is said to have once been a pupil of Mir ‘Ali (A. Sakisian, ‘Mahmud Mudhahib, miniaturiste, enlumineur et calligraphe persan’, in Ars Islamica, IV, 1937, p.339), the famous calligrapher from Herat, and together they brought the art of Bukhara to new heights. Indeed Hasan Nisari noted in 1566 that “the gilders and illuminators of the studio, having brought decoration and painting to perfection, with a single hair point depicted faces so that in portrait drawing [even] a hair tip of a person depicted had no flaw – and in art everyone of them was another Mani and better than Bihzad’s pupils” (Gray, op.cit., p.264).
In excellent condition, the present miniature stands out for the incredible vividness of the colours of the paint as well as the gold overlay. Each detail is intricately drawn, resulting in an array of expressive faces set in a multitude of poses and organised around the page in a rhythmic composition. The ornate and detailed treatment of the canopy above the Sultan is akin to the finest book illuminations of the period and can be compared to another miniature from the Gulistan of Sa’di sold at Christie’s, 25 April 2013, lot 27, A Private Collection donated to Benefit the University of Oxford, Part 3. A number of elements, such as the pair of seated figures on a carpet, or the clusters of men in lively discussions with animated movements recall the Herat school in which it was already characteristic to borrow groups of figures or compositions to populate a painting (T.W. Lentz and G.D. Lowry, Timur and the Princely Vision, Exhibition Catalogue, Los Angeles, 1989, esp.pp.376-79).
Illustrated is a scene from the Gulistan of Shaykh Muslih al-Din Sa’di. Belonging to the fourth story in the first section, and titled ‘On the Manners of King’, the image depicted is more particularly that of ‘the captured Arab robbers before the King’. In front of the King appear four robbers who have been captured and who he has just given the order to be slain. A vizier (standing in front of the King) intercedes on behalf of the youth that appears near him on his knees with the precept that a bad foundation can be changed by the society of pious men, and notably that one can profit by education and acquire the disposition of a wise person. Unillustrated here is the ending of the story, in which the King spares the life of the youth despite disagreeing with the vizier, arguing that a wolf’s whelp will always be a wolf, even if it is raised with mankind. Eventually, the youth grew up to become a robber who killed the vizier and joined a group of bandits, resulting in the King’s recounting of the moral « to do good to the wicked is like doing evil to good men ».
Below is a selection of known manuscripts illustrated by Muzahhib. Although most probably a small portion of his corpus of works, each is of comparable interest. The stars indicate manuscripts which were later illustrated by him, and in some instances, it must be noted that he worked with other artists who signed paintings, or to whom early attributions exist in the same manuscript.
Jami, Tuhfat al-Ahrar, 905*, Sultan Ali Mashhadi, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, Supp.Pers.1416
Amir Khusraw Dehlawi, Qirani Sa’dayn, 925*, Muhammad Khandan, Israel Museum
Jami, Diwan, 926*, Sultan Ali Mashhadi, The New York Public Library, New York City, M&A Pers.ms.1
Nizami, Makhzan al-Asrar, 944, Mir Ali Haravi, Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, Supp.Pers.985
Sa’di, Bustan, 949, Mir ‘Ali Harawi, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon
Various, Rawdat al-Muhibbin, 956, Mir Ali Harawi, Salar Jung Museum, India, A.Nm.1611
Jami, Baharistan, 958, Mir Husayn al-Husayni, formerly in the collection of E. de Lorey, Paris
Sa’di, Gulistan, dispersed, 968 (?), two paintings sold at Christie’s, A Private Collection, Donated to Benefit the University of Oxford, Part II, 4 October 2012, lots 12 and 13
Sa’di, Bustan, 969-70, sold at Christie’s, A Private Collection, Donated to Benefit the University of Oxford, Part II, 4 October 2012, lot 14
Sa’di, Bustan, 970, Mir ‘Ali Harawi, Golestan Palace, Tehran, no. 2164
Jami, Yusuf wa Zulaykha, 973, Mahmud b. Ishaq, Art and History Trust, no.80
Jami, Diwan, date unknown, offered at Christie’s, A Private Collection, Donated to Benefit the University of Oxford, Part II, 4 October 2012, lot 15
Jami, Tuhfat al-Ahrar, circa 1550 AD, Mir Ali Haravi, Sackler Gallery, Washington DC, S86.0046
Sa’di, Bustan, date unknown, Keir Collection, London, III-330-1
Sa’di, Gulistan, dispersed, 968 (?), two paintings sold at Christie’s, A Private Collection, Donated to Benefit the University of Oxford, Part III, 25 April 2013, lots 26 and 27
Also from the collections of the Dukes of Northumberland at Alnwick castle and never before offered at auction is the unparalleled Arabic-English Lexicon of Edward William Lane, estimated at £200,000-300,000. This copy in forty volumes represents the monumental achievement of almost half the lifetime of the pioneering Egyptologist and eminent Orientalist. Still in production at the time of Lane’s death in 1876 after thirty-four years’ dedication, it is a truly remarkable work of scholarship that has yet to be surpassed in the realms of lexicography and remains an essential tool to scholars well into the twenty-first century. The accompanying ten volumes of al-Saghani’s U’bab, used as source material for the Lexicon, are important Mamluk manuscripts in their own right, acquired in London on behalf of the fourth Duke of Northumberland in 1864 and placed at Lane’s disposal.
From the Ottoman come three masterpieces of the early 16th century: a royal astrolabe dedicated to Sultan Bayezid II (r.1481-1512), an extraordinary blue and white Iznik dish from circa 1520, and a beautifully-illuminated Qur’an attributed to the master calligrapher Mustafa Dede. The sale will also include a very rare oil portrait of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent by a follower of Gentile Bellini, and an exceptional 14th-century gilt-copper and silvered pyxis from the Nasrid period of Al-Andalus.
A royal brass astrolabe made by al-Ahmar al-Nujumi al-Rumi for the treasury of the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid II (r.1481–1512), Turkey, dated 911 AH/1505-6 AD. Estimate 800,000 — 1,000,000 GBP. Photo Sotheby’s
comprising a mater with a double loop for suspension, three discs and an alidade, with incised details, the reverse with two calligraphic roundels, the pin modern; 9.5cm. diam.
LITERATURE: King, D.A, In Synchrony with the Heavens: Studies in Astronomical Timekeeping and Instrumentation in Medieval Islamic Civilization, Volume Two: Instruments of Mass Calculation, Brill, Leiden-Boston, 2005, pp.783-796.
Notes: This important astrolabe is one of two known pieces dedicated to the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid II (r. 1481-1512). There are no other astrolabes dedicated to an Ottoman sultan, not even in the Topkapi Sarayi Museum.
This piece represents the beginning of a new Ottoman tradition in modestly-decorated astrolabes, a tendency to be observed already in various earlier Syrian pieces made by professional astronomers themselves rather than by professional craftsmen. The other, made in the previous year by Shukrallah Mukhlis Shirwani, is more in the Persian tradition and is more ornately decorated in a distinctive style; it is preserved in the Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo1. The makers of both arts are not otherwise known (see further below).
The history of early Ottoman astronomy in general (from the fourteenth to the early sixteenth century) has not yet been properly researched. It was influenced by the Seljuq Turkish tradition (Anatolia, thirteenth century) of which very few sources and not a single instrument survive; by the colourful Mamluk tradition (Egypt and Syria, thirteenth-fifteenth centuries)2, and by the vigorous Ilkhanid and Timurid traditions (Iran and Central Asia, thirteenth-fifteenth centuries)3. The sources for Ottoman astronomy have recently been properly documented for the first time4, and the amount of possible research for the future is daunting.
The interest of Bayezid II for astronomy is well-known5. The institutions of court munajjims (astronomers-astrologers) and mosque muwaqqits (timekeepers) were well established in his time. The sultan studied mathematics and astronomy with his private teacher, who was none other than Miriam Chelebi, the grandson of Qadi Zade al-Rumi, director of Ulugh Beg’s observatory at Samarqand. Numerous astronomers dedicated their work to Bayezid, including treatises on instruments and highly sophisticated tables. He himself commissioned his teacher to prepare a Persian commentary to the astronomical tables of Ulugh Beg.
The early Ottoman tradition of instrument-making (fourteenth-sixteenth centuries) is represented only by these two preparation pieces for Bayezid II. All other surviving Ottoman astrolabes are later than these two, indeed at least a century later. Out of a total of some 30-odd pieces6, none shows any indication of having been influenced specifically by either of those two pieces.
The astrolabe of Bayezid II
The workmanship is competent but, primarily, this is an astrolabe designed to be used. The engraving, in Kufic, is elegant and distinctive. The Arabic alphanumerical (abjad) notation is used throughout, except for the date, which is written in Hindu-Arabic numerals.
The throne is undecorated, with lobes on either side of the upper lobe and smaller protrusions at the far left or right. The suspension apparatus, a shackle and ring, is attached at the top of the throne.
The matter bears a circumferential scale divided for each 5° and subdivided for each 1°, labelled 5° – 10° – 5° – 20° – … – 5 –  60°. The base circles for the equinoxes and two solstices are engraved in the inside of the mater. (This was a common practice, which enabled additional markings to be added at will).
The rete is of unusual design, it is simply decorated. The horizontal diameter is rectilinear (not counter changed), as was standard on Early Islamic astrolabes. The vertical axis is complete, but incorporates some decorative features. Above the centre there is a heart-shaped, or perhaps rather hoe-shaped, frame in the upper-half of the ecliptic (not known on any other astrolabe). Above this is a flower-shaped design with six petals, at the centre of which is a silver knob, which serves, along with three others, two at either end of the horizontal diameter and another below the centre, to turn the rete over the appropriate plate. The earlier development of these designs can be traced (see the commentary below).
The scale of the ecliptic is divided for the zodiacal signs, whose names are the standard forms:
Al-hamal – al-thawr – al-jawza’ – al-saratan – al-asad – al-sunbula – al-qaws – al-jady – al-dalw – al-hut
And each sign is divided into five unlabelled 6°-intervals. The star-pointers are shaped like jesters’ hats, developed – as if by lack of starching – from the dagger-shaped pointers on early Eastern Islamic astrolabes. They serve 15 named stars, here listed in order of increasing right ascension (counter-clockwise from the vernal equinox) and identified8:
1… al-dabara n 24/18 alpha Tauri
2…. Rijl al-jawza’ 37/19 beta Orionis
3…(al-shi’ra) al-yamania… 39/23 alpha Canis Maioris
4…(al-shi’ra) al-sha’miya 39/23 alpha Canis Minoris
5…qalb-al-asad 26/30 alpha Leonis
6…(al-simak) al-a’zal 29/39 alpha virginis
7…(al-simak) al-ramih 29/39 alpha Bootis
8…’unuq (al-hayya) 12/196 alpha Serpentis
9…— fakka [ineligible word]#2/45 alpha Coronae Borealis
10… qalb al-‘aqrab 30/48 alpha Scorpii
11… (ra’s) al-hawwa’ 11/51 alpha Ophiniuchi
12…(al-nasr) al-ta’ir 13/54 alpha Aquilae
14… dhanab al dajaja 6/56 alpha Cygni
15… mankib (al-faras) 17/62 beta Pegasi
#One might expect al-munir min al-fakka or nayyir al-af-fakkar
There are three plates with five sides engraved with altitude-circles for each 3°, labelled for each 6°. The altitude arguments are engraved in lined ‘cartouches’ on the left and right, continuing down the centre (i.e. up the meridian) to the zenith, which is labelled 90° within the altitude circle for 84°. Such cartouches are found already on some of the plates of 10th century astrolabes. The east – and west – points are labelled al-machriq and al-maghrib below the horizon. There are no azimuth curves. The curves for the seasonal hours below the horizon are labelled 1, 2, …, 12. (On the plate for 41;30° the ‘1’ has been repeated but the mistake realised: the numbers run 1-1-2-3-4-6-…). The astrolabe markings serve latitudes:
33° 36° 39° 40° 41° 30.
The latitudes are indicated by the expression ‘ard–, ‘latitude–. No localities are associated with these, but see the commentary.
On the back of the plate for latitude 33° is a set of half- horizons arranged in four quadrants and marked for latitudes:
28°/38° 33°/48° 32°/45° 30°/43°.
The back is simply executed. Above the horizontal diameter there are two altitudes scales with divisions labelled for each 5°, subdivided for each 1°.
In the upper left quadrant is a sexagesimal (base 60) trigonometric grid with equi-spaced horizontal and vertical lines drawn for each 3 units. In the upper right quadrant the dedication is engraved within a double circle. The rim of the lower left quadrant is devoid of markings and in this quadrant the name of the maker is engraved on a single line. The rim of the lower right quadrant is marked with a scale for shadows to base 12 and is labelled zill-I asabi, ‘shadow in digits’. The sale begins at the bottom and is marked up to 25 digits, each 5 being labelled, with subdivisions for each 1 unit. Inside this quadrant there is a shadow square to base 12 with horizontal and vertical scales divided and labelled for each 3 units (digits), subdivided for each single unit.
The dedication reads:
Li-rasm khizanati ’l-sultani ‘l-a’zam al-sultan ibn al-sultan sultan Bayazid ibn Muhammad Khan khallada [‘llah] mulkahu
‘By order of the Treasury of the Greatest Sultanm sultan son of sultan, Sultan Bayezit son of Mehmet Khan – may [God] make his dominion last for ever.’
The inscription naming the maker reads:
Sana’ahu ‘l-Ahmah al-Nujumi al-Rumi fi sanati 911 Hijriyya
‘Constucted by al-Ahmar al-Nujumi al-Rumi in the year 911 Hijra’
The date is written in Hindu-Arabic numerals and corresponds to 1505/06 A.D.
The alidade is not counter-changed and is decorated with clef-shaped ends. There is a sexagesimal scale on one half of the alidade, labelled 6-12-…-54-60, for use in conjunction with the trigonometric quadrant on the back.
The decoration of the rete
The basic simplicity of the rete is in the tradition of the non-presentational pieces from the Mamluk Syria, such as the one made by the Damascus Astronomer Ibn-al-Shatir in 726 AH/1325-26 AD9. The flower on the rete can be traced back to the decorative quatrefoil on the spectacular astrolabe of the astronomer al-Khujandi, made in Baghdad in 374 AH/984-85 AD10.
This quatrefoil, probably Byzantine in inspiration, is found on several astrolabes from the Islamic East over the centuries, notably on one made in Isfahan in 618 AH/1223-24 AD11. On this piece the quatrefoil occurs above a frame shaped like the side cross-section of an artichoke, which encloses the star-pointed for Vega, graphically represented as an eagle. Various later Eastern Islamic show this combination of motifs, which on this astrolabe for Bayezid II appear in a much simplified form. The Isfahan astrolabe mentioned above also has a star-pointer of the jester-hat variety.
The latitudes used for the plates
The plate for 33° could serve Damascus and Baghdad; 36 °– Aleppo and Mosul; 39° – Kayseri, Konya (?) and Ankara; 40° – Bursa and Suvas. The plate for 4130’ was clearly intended for Istanbul, although the latitude of that city is correctly 41° 2’. There were several problems with medieval values for the latitude of Constantinople, which was often taken as 45° 12 and Ottoman astronomers were the first to measure it properly.
For comparison we note the latitudes serves by the plates on the other astrolabe dedicated to Bayezid II, namely 21°, 30°, 33°, 36°, 38°, 40° and 41°. The first and second would have been intended for Mecca and Cairo, the last for Istanbul ad 38° for Konya and Malatya.
The maker of this astrolabe, al-Ahmar al-Rumi al-Nujumi, is unknown to the modern literature on Islamic instrumentation13. His name is unusual and means ‘the red one’. Nevertheless, the name Ahmar is an attested Muslim name. The epithet al-Rumi indicates that he was a Turk from Central Anatolia14. The epithet al-nujumi indicates that he was an astronomer, yet he is not mentioned in the recently-published bio-bibliographical survey of Ottoman astronomers and their works15 which means that he did not author any treatises. Likewise the maker of the other astrolabe dedicated to Bayezid II is otherwise unknown.
1. Gunther 1932, I, p. 126, no.12. The piece has been misdated to (8)91 AH/1496 AD., but the date is clearly 910 AH/1504-05 AD. See the illustrations of the front and back (to Hartner 1938) in Pope 1938/39, III, p.2518, and VI, pl.1399, and Mayer 1956m p.83, for further bibliography.
2. See King 1983.
3. See Kennedy 1968 and 1986.
4. Ihsanoglu 1997.
5. See Adnan 1939, pp.28,35,43-52; the numerous references in Ihsanoglu 1997, II, p. 992; as well as King 1980, pp.247-248.
6. A preliminary catalogue of these has been prepared in Frankfurt as part of la larger ongoing project to catalogue all medieval Islamic and European instruments (see King 1991a). Several Ottoman astrolabes are featured in Dizer 1986 and Mouliérac 1989. A handlist of astrolabes is in Price et al. 1973.
7. See Irani 1955.
8. The numbers are those in Kunitzsch 1990, pp.158-161 and Kunitzsch 1959 pp.59-96, and p. 217 (for no.8).
9. Paris 1991, p.435 (no.331).
10. King 1995, pp.90 and 82-89, no.2.
11. Gunther 1932, I, pp.118-120, no.5.
12. Kennedy & Kennedy 1987, pp.93-94.
13. The basic reference work is still Mayer 1956.
14. Article ‘Rumi’ in EI.
15. See no.5 above.
This note was prepared with the kind assistance of Professor David A. King, Frankfurt.
An exceptional Iznik blue and white pottery dish, Turkey, circa 1520. Estimate 300,000 — 500,000 GBP. Photo Sotheby’s
the deep round dish with everted rim painted in underglaze cobalt blue and turquoise on a white ground, the central medallion featuring a tree issuing finely drawn floral blossoms, within a tight scroll border, with lotus-blossom stems, the cavetto with cloud scrolls, the rim with a rumi-arabesque pattern reserved against a cobalt-blue ground, the exterior with a band of floral blossoms, under a transparent glaze, old collection label to base; 35.5cm. diam.
PROVENANCE: Ex-Adda collection
LITERATURE: N. Atasoy, and J. Raby, Iznik, The Pottery of Ottoman Turkey, published for Istanbul University, 1989, no.168.
B. Rackham, Islamic Pottery and Italian Maiolica, London, 1959, p.26, no.61, illustration no.26.
NOTE: This unique dish from the Imperial Ottoman potteries of Iznik heralds the transition between the early Baba Nakkas Style and the more experimental Potters’ Style of the 1520s which saw the introduction of a new colour, copper-based turquoise, and looser, more painterly decoration. The dish has a prestigious provenance, from the celebrated Adda collection, and an impressive exhibition and publication history dating back to the 1950s.
Featuring motifs from two successive stages of early Iznik pottery, this dish is extremely rare as it encompasses the multi-faceted layers of Iznik production, demonstrating its complex evolution. Centred on a design featuring a turquoise ‘Tree of Life’ motif dominated by twisting and overlapping branches within which emerge finely drawn floral sprigs characteristic of the free-hand “Potter’s Style”, the rest of the dish remains indebted to the Baba Nakkas Rumi-Hatayi Style which marked the formative period between 1470 and 1520 (Atasoy and Raby 1989, p.77). Indeed, each decorative component on this dish can be associated with a different phase of this period. For example, the rim of split-palmettes is inspired by the rumi arabesque designs from the earliest Iznik wares of the 1480s, illustrated on other dishes such as a bowl in the Musée du Monde Arabe, Paris, (on loan from the Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs), inv. no. 5150 and a charger in the Haags Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, inv. no. OCI 6-36. Whereas in both of these cited examples the rumi designs are used in conjunction with thehatayi floral scrolls, on this dish the lotus blossoms are placed within a central roundel. These lotus-blossoms share a complexity of design that recalls those by the so-called ‘Master of the Lotuses’ which adorn four lamps in Sultan Bayezid II’s tomb, commissioned by his son Selim in about 1512-13 allowing for a precise dating. Furthermore, the s-shaped cloudbands on the cavetto could have been taken directly from those on a dish in the Sadberk Hanim Museum (Bilgi 2009, pp. 54-5, no.7), attributed to circa 1510-15.
The drawing in the centre, representing a kind of ‘Tree of Life’ is absolutely unique; it not only demonstrates the artist’s skill but also his freedom of spirit in the inventiveness of the design. Whereas this dish could also be described as falling into the ‘blue-and-turquoise phase’, Julian Raby rightly notes that this label fails to convey the variety of styles encompassed in this group and nowhere is this more noticeable than when we compare the present dish with two other similar dishes which fall in the same category (Atasoy and Raby 1989, p.115). The first, in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (inv. no. C.2019-1910), illustrates a narrative scene, showing a snake sliding up a tree towards an unsuspecting bird. Whilst this charming dish also illustrates the new creativity in design in Iznik wares of this period, it does not reach the complexity and elegance of the present dish. The second, a charger in the Antaki Collection in Aleppo (Atasoy and Raby 1989, pp.167-8, no.171, fig.316), shares the same wild nature of the tree found on the present dish, whilst experimenting with different, seemingly incongruous motifs such as grape-vines, lotus-blossoms and a scale-border borrowing, like the present dish, from already established motifs.
The back of this dish is decorated with a band comprising floral stems which are described by Bernard Rackham as “a wreath of flowers in the spirit of Chinese cloud-scrolls” attesting to the influence of Chinese wares on Iznik potters, particularly as the Topkapi Saray held an important collection of Yuan and early Ming dynasty wares (Rackham 1959, p.26, no.61).
Exceptional in design, the present dish is a superlative example of early Ottoman pottery. It is a truly rare piece whose academic importance is matched by its artistic beauty encompassing the skill and fantasy of early Iznik production.
A portrait of Suleyman the Magnificent, by a follower of Gentile Bellini, Italy, probably Venice, circa 1520. Estimate 250,000 — 350,000 GBP. Photo Sotheby’s
oil on panel, framed; painting: 32.5 by 28cm; frame: 42 by 36cm.
PROVENANCE: Ex-collection Samuel H. Kress
Ex-collection Contini Bonacossi
Ex-collection Cini, Castello di Monselice
NOTES: When he came to power in 1520, Suleyman II inherited a vast empire which encompassed Syria, Palestine, Egypt and the Hijaz, including Mecca and Medina; extending eastwards towards the Caspian Sea, as far North as Vienna and parts of the African coast to the South. As the tenth ruler of the House of Osman, Suleyman quickly became known locally as “Kanuni” (‘the Lawgiver’), due to his important legal reformations (E. Atil., The Age of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent, 1987, p.18). Also known in Europe as “Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent” due to his prodigious administrative restructuring and keen artistic patronage, Sultan Suleyman was responsible for turning Constantinople (now Istanbul) into an important intellectual centre.
Furthermore, his military conquests and the terror engendered by Barbaros Hayreddin Pasha (Barbarossa) and his fleet in the Mediterranean provoked a fascination with the Sultan and his important Empire. Unlike his great grandfather, Mehmed II, who actually invited European artists to his court to paint depictions of him to be sent out as diplomatic gifts, Suleyman does not seem to have commissioned any portraits. Details of his physical appearance were conveyed to European artists through sketches created by artists who had accompanied foreign embassies to the Ottoman court.
The two earliest known surviving depictions of Suleyman as a young man include a drawing by Albrecht Durer now in the Musée Bonnat, Bayonne, France (inv. no. 286/1515, fig.1), and a copper plate print by the Italian lithography master ‘A.A’ now in the Graphische Samlung Albertina, Vienna (inv. no. AL6 41.54IB), both dated 1526 (Lamberto Donati, “Due Immagini Ignote di Solimano I (1494-1566), in: Studi orientalistici in onore di Giorgio Levi Della Vida: Volume I, Roma, 1956, pp.219-233).
Scholarly debate has come to the conclusion that these two depictions were probably copied after a “lost model” created just after Sultan Suleyman’s accession to the throne in 1520 (A. Orbay, The Sultan’s Portrait: Picturing the House of Osman, Istanbul, 2000, pp.98-99). The present portrait bears striking similarities to both illustrations and it is possible that it may even be the original ‘lost’ model from which such depictions of the Sultan stemmed. Resemblances in the shape of his turban, the large drooping collar of his robe, his aquiline nose, fine lips and gently protruding chin with a thin moustache and slight delineation of his adam’s apple point towards this connection. Such details are shared on a medal representing Suleyman and inscribed “Solyman – Imp – TVR” in the Heberden Coin Room, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (See Orbay 2000, p.112).
This painting is also inscribed along the bottom frame “Turchorum Imperator Maximus” (‘Great Turkish Emperor Suleyman’). This was to be the catchphrase used on further depictions of the Sultan, including in Durer’s drawing and A.A’s copper plate print. Whereas Durer’s drawing condenses it to ‘Suleyman Imperator’, A.A’s copper plate print reads ‘Suleyman Imperator T’ – the ‘T’ most probably standing for Turchorum as in the present painting. In addition, Durer and A.A. have both added the date 1526, which would have held strong symbolic connotations in the minds of a European audience as it was the date that marked the battle of Mohacs, during which forces of the Kingdom of Hungary led by King Louis II of Hungary and Bohemia were defeated by the Ottomans.
It is very likely that either Andrea Gritti (1455-1538) or his son Alvise Gritti (1480-1534) was the patron behind this portrait. Before being elected Doge of Venice in 1523, Andrea Gritti spent most of his life in Constantinople as a grain merchant and diplomat looking after Venetian interests. His son, Alvise Gritti was born from a non-Muslim Ottoman woman with whom Andrea had an affair, and played an important political role in the Ottoman state, advising both the Ottoman Sultan and European diplomats. A passionate patron of the arts, Alvise promoted architects and artists such as Jacopo Sansovino and Titian, who also drew a portrait of him. Titian eventually painted four known ‘portraits’ of Suleyman (see J.M. Rogers and R.M. Ward, Suleyman the Magnificent, exhib. cat. British Museum, London, 1998, p. 46 note 4 and H.E. Wethey, loc. cit.). Suleyman would have been far too grand to sit for the attendants of the ambassadors and other foreigners he received, which is why Alvise, who had artists around him and who received visits from the Sultan, may indeed be the patron behind this particular work.
In 1941, this painting entered the Contini Bonacossi collection, and notes accompanying the entry in the collection record the observations by leading historians of the time such as Longhi, Fiocco, Van Marle and Pope Hennessy. Whereas Longhi attributes it to Bellini himself, Fiocco describes it as a “school work but not too distant from the hand of the master himself”. Indeed, one can sense the artist’s subtle technique in the modelling of the face and clothing of the Sultan.
Both from a historical and art-historical point of view, the present portrait is a landmark. Not only is it one of the few Western images of an Eastern potentate done by a European artist, but it probably also served as a primary source of inspiration for many later portraits, drawings, prints and medals of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent.
ART OF IMPERIAL INDIA 8 OCTOBER 2014
Sotheby’s Art of Imperial India sale focuses on fine paintings, jewellery, photographs and works of art from the Mughal and Rajput courts as well as the period of the British Raj. An outstanding Maharani torque necklace (hasli), Bikaner, Rajasthan, late 19th century is estimated at £250,000-300,000. India boasts an unbroken tradition in the decorative arts that can be traced back at least five thousand years. A notable spurt in the traditional jewelled arts of India took place in the late nineteenth century, a period that witnessed a marriage between the traditional craft knowledge of the Subcontinent and European fashions and taste of the time. This type of necklace derives its name from the Hindi word hansuli (collar- bone), and as indicated, rests on the collarbone of the wearer. It is a quintessentially Rajasthani ornament, though beautiful silver torques were worn in other areas across the Indian subcontinent.
An outstanding Maharani torque necklace (hasli), Bikaner, Rajasthan, late 19th century. Estimate 250,000 — 300,000 GBP. Photo Sotheby’s
comprised of diamonds, rubies and emeralds set in green enamel using the kundan-mina technique with an inner edge of pearls set in gold cups and an outer fringe of emerald beads, the reverse decorated with a row of green enamel leaves on a white ground; 20cm. diam.
NOTES: India boasts an unbroken tradition in the decorative arts that can be traced back at least five thousand years. A notable spurt in the traditional jewelled arts of India took place in the late nineteenth century, a period that witnessed a marriage between the traditional craft knowledge of the Subcontinent and European fashions and taste of the time.
The present hasli or torque necklace was decorated in the Kundan technique by which precious stones were set into hyper-purified gold that was refined into strips of malleable foil which develops an adhesive quality at room temperature. Diamonds and rubies were then placed directly into this setting, on a polished gold or silver foil to highlight the gemstone’s reflection and colour. This rich design is enhanced with a bright and colourful enamel layer (mina) and further adorned with hanging emeralds and pearls. The quality of execution on the present torque is exceptional and points to a noble or royal patronage.
This type of necklace derives its name from the Hindi word ‘hansuli’ (collar-bone), and as indicated, rests on the collarbone of the wearer. It is a quintessentially Rajasthani ornament, though beautiful silver torques were worn in other areas across the Indian subcontinent. An attribution to Bikaner is further confirmed by the strongly Mughal-influenced design of the necklace and the predominant use of green with a metallic sheen on its surface.
For further examples of such haslis, see M. Latif, M, Bijoux Moghols, exhibition catalogue, Société Générale de Banque, Brussels, 1982, p.171, nos. 38 and 39.
From the collections of the Dukes of Northumberland is a manuscript on the romance of Jahandar Sultan and Bahravar Banu (the Bahar-i-Danish) with 118 fully-coloured miniatures, including 22 double-page scenes. This profusely illustrated copy, demonstrating the scope of Mughal book production in late- seventeenth and early-eighteenth century India, is estimated to bring £100,000- 150,000.
Shaykh Inayat Allah Kanbu of Lahore, Bihar-i-Danish (‘The Romance of Jahandar Sultan and Bahravar Banu’), Mughal, late 17th-early 18th century. Estimate 100,000 — 150,000 GBP. Photo Sotheby’s
Persian manuscript on paper, 375 leaves, foliated in Persian numerals in red, 16 lines to the page, written innasta’liq script in black with headings and important passages in red, two illuminated headpieces in colours and gold, the first with illumination in the margins on two pages, 118 fully-coloured miniatures, including 22 double-page scenes, margins ruled in red and gold, 19th-century English description of the manuscript written on blank at beginning, 19th-century Indian red morocco with yellow painted borders and decoration on backstrip, modern gilt library number 774 on spine; 26.5 by 16cm.
PROVENANCE: Probably acquired by Henry Algernon George Percy, Earl Percy (1871-1909), appointed Under-Secretary of State for India between 1902-3, and who travelled extensively in the near East and Africa, thence by descent.
SOLD BY ORDER OF THE 12TH DUKE OF NORTHUMBERLAND AND THE TRUSTEES OF THE NORTHUMBERLAND ESTATES
NOTES: Shaykh Inayat Allah completed the text of the Bahar-i-Danish towards the end of Shah Jahan’s reign in 1061 AH/1651 AD. In the introduction Inayat Allah admits that his story is an Indian one which he heard told by a Brahmin, and which he adapted to create the present Persian version. The English inscription at the beginning refers to the translation made by Jonathan Scott, published in 1799.
This profusely illustrated copy is likely to originate from the late Aurangzeb period at the end of the seventeenth century, although a large amount of the paintings evoke the style and lyricism of the earlier Shah Jahan period, and such artists as Govardhan (active in the first half of the seventeenth century). Interestingly the manuscript contains an earlier portrait of Shah Jahan in his old age on folio seven, and this appears to have been added at some point after the production of the work.
While most of the miniatures are in the later seventeenth century Mughal style, others retain features of the early eighteenth century. A likely explanation for this is that a certain amount of the pages were left blank when originally illustrated, and were painted a little later. The manuscript is unusual for this combination of painting, and a parallel can be drawn with other Mughal romances of the early eighteenth century, for example the Karnama-i-ishq dated 1735, now in the India Office Library as Johnson Album 38.
The illumination and miniatures are as follows:
f. 1b-2 Illuminated headpiece with decorated borders on two pages.
f. 3b-4 Coloured portrait drawings of two Mughal courtiers facing one another.
f. 6 A mullah reading a document.
f. 6b Illuminated headpiece.
f. 7 Shah Jahan standing with a sword over his shoulder.
f. 7b-8 Portraits of two Mughal courtiers.
f. 11 A prince with three mullahs.
f. 13b A lady sleeping with her baby.
f. 14 Jahandar Sultan receiving courtiers.
f. 15b Jahandar Sultan hawking.
f. 16b Groom with a horse.
f. 17 Jahandar Sultan discussing a caged parrot.
f. 19 Jahandar Sultan meets Bahravar Banu.
f. 23 A mullah passes out before Bahravar Banu and her ladies.
f. 27 Sultan Jahandar faints at the sight of the portrait of Bahravar Banu.
f. 33b A man hanging upside down from a tree.
f. 34 Sultan Jahandar and Bahravar Banu asleep as a cobra approaches.
f. 38b A man up a tree attacked by a snake.
f. 42 Two ladies with a man and a cow.
f. 42b Ladies with a slain male corpse at night.
f. 43b A lady attacking a man with a sword.
f. 47 Two ladies with a man and a cow.
f. 58 Courtiers hailing Sultan Jahandar and Bahravar Banu.
f. 67 Men stoning a maiden having hanged an old lady.
f. 69b Two cats up a tree with a man beneath.
f. 72 A lady receives a peacock.
f. 74 A maiden beheaded.
f. 75b Two men discussing two dead birds.
f. 79 A man approaching ladies at a well.
f. 81 The man levitates over a bed.
f. 82b A couple with a cow.
f. 83b A lady tended on a bed.
f. 85 A man up a tree while a couple search beneath.
f. 87b-88 A lady in a palanquin.
f. 90 A lady with a severed nose visiting a sleeping man.
f. 91 Sultan Jahandar pleading with a lady.
f. 93b A prince enthroned.
f. 97 Sultan Jahandar enthroned.
f. 99b Men watching a travelling divine.
f. 101 Space left for miniature].
f. 104 A parrot brought to a holy man.
f. 104b An empty landscape.
f. 106 A prince visiting a holy man.
f. 110b-111 Archers aiming at a Simurgh which carries off a body.
f. 112b A girl on the tail of a water-dragon.
f. 113-114 Monkeys beneath a tree into which a bhil has climbed
f. 114b A monkey embraces the bhil.
f. 117-118 The monkeys wave the bhil off on her sea voyage.
f. 120b-121 The bhil approaches a meeting of four divines.
f. 124b A rat, a jackal, and a camel tied to a tree.
f. 126b-127 Riders approaching rats who carry gold coins in their mouths.
f. 129 A rat rides the camel.
f. 129b Ground squirrels (?) in a landscape.
f. 133 Two ladies in discussion.
f. 133b A lady flies with wings.
f. 136 A prince asleep with attendants, one dozing.
f. 136b Palace with doorkeepers.
f. 129 Prisoners with executioner.
f. 143b-144 A nobleman aiming a bow beyond two courtiers.
f. 144b Man with a parrot on his head.
f. 148 A man on a verandah.
f. 148b The man receives a parrot.
f. 151 The man falls into a river where a fisherman casts his net.
f. 151b A lady in a boat.
f. 155 An old man with a sick cow.
f. 155b The cow gets better.
f. 161 A demon sleeps in a landscape.
f. 161b A prince approaching a lady.
f. 165 A town beneath clouds.
f. 165b Sleeping prince with attendants.
f. 170b Man with fish [defective].
f. 173b A king holding court.
f. 174 A man feeding a fish out of water.
f. 177b-178 A king entertained by musicians and dancing girls.
f. 181b A man leads his veiled wife on horseback.
f. 190b-191 A severed head brought to a prince while gunmen shoot sky-travellers.
f. 196b A mounted warrior slain in the field by a mounted prince.
f. 198b A p ince hawking with his lady.
f. 2013b A queen and mutilated men.
f. 210b-211 A prince leaves his throne to greet a friend in a field.
f. 216 Two ladies taking refreshment.
f. 221b-222 An elopement on a camel.
f. 226 A prince petitioned by a mullah.
f. 231b-232 The prince with the mullah and others.
f. 244 A prince with attendants.
f. 245 A mullah visiting a lady.
f. 249b A sleeping lady lifted by thieves.
f. 250 The thieves vanquished after a fight while the lady remains asleep.
f. 25b-258 Two men discussing a simurgh while a cobra climbs to her nest.
f. 264b-265 A lady chased from the zenana garden while the simurgh approaches.
f. 266b A prince receives a visitor.
f. 267 A prince by a tank.
f. 271 Cats fighting while some men depart.
f. 75b-276 A man brings a netted captive beneath the window of a lady.
f. 280 A prince and princess with ladies.
f. 282b-283 A prince and lady with female musicians.
f. 288b A man runs away as his horse grows a serpent’s tail.
f. 289 Two cobras.
f. 292 Courtiers considering a tree-sprite.
f. 295b-296 A melon floating in the ornamental pool of a garden.
f. 299 Three men hailing a princess at her window.
f. 302 Two ladies meet a negro.
f. 308b Four ladies bathing.
f. 309 A prince fainting.
f. 314 A lady travelling by camel.
f. 322 A couple by a fish pool.
f. 326 A boy with deer.
f. 328b Four ladies finding a boy under a tree.
f. 333b-334 A princess shows her portrait to a prince, dancers on the left.
f. 337 The prince and princess enthroned.
f. 341b The prince and princess in a garden.
f. 346b A swordsman chasing deer in a landscape.
f. 349b A mynah bird brought to a prince by a courtier.
f. 351b A buck caught by hounds before a prince.
f. 358b-359 A battle scene with elephants and cavalry.
f. 359b-360 A prince and princess with girl entertainers.
f. 365b Ladies bringing presents to a prince.
f. 372b-373 Princes following the biers of Jahandar Sultan and Bahravar Banu on horseback.
The sale features a magnificent private collection of 31 photo albums from the magnificent private collection of Sven Gahlin, containing over 2,000 photographs of India, Ceylon, Burma and Southeast Asia, dating from the 1850s to the early twentieth century. Apart from eight individual photographs, which were exhibited at the Photographers’ Gallery in 1983, none of the albums have ever been exhibited or seen in public since their acquisition over 40 years ago. The total estimated value of the collection is £150,000-220,000. These historically important albums belonged to some of the most influential families of British colonial history in India, including four albums from the family of Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India from 1899 to 1905. Ranging from stunningly beautiful images of India’s landscape and architecture, to the pomp and ceremony of colonial life, to haunting documents of the Indian famine, the collection is unparalleled as an archive of one of the defining eras of British and Asian history.