Alongside Indian miniatures, Islamic manuscripts, 18th-century jewels and rare works of art as part of “Arts of The Islamic World & India”, Sotheby’s London will have a 16th-century masterpiece going under the hammer.
September 21, 2022: The Shahnameh – or ‘Book of Kings’ – made for Shah Tahmasp of Persia (r.1524-76) is one of the finest illustrated manuscripts. The monumental tome covers the greatest epic of Persian literature, containing 50,000 rhyming couplets and tells the history of all Persia’s rulers from the country’s ancient mythical beginnings. The manuscript boasts a glittering provenance from when it was commissioned to the present day.
A folio from the Shah Tahmasp Shahnameh making a rare appearance at Sotheby’s Arts of the Islamic World & India auction, offered with an estimate of £4,000,000 – 6,000,000.
This October, a magnificent folio from the Shah Tahmasp Shahnameh will make a rare appearance at auction as part of Sotheby’s bi-annual Arts of the Islamic World & India auction, offered with an estimate of £4,000,000 – 6,000,000. The scene depicts the great hero Rustam recovering his horse Rakhsh – named the Persian word for lightning – two of the leading figures throughout the tale.
It was commissioned by Shah Ismail (the first of the Safavids), completed by another, his son and successor Shah Tahmasp, and gifted to a third, Sultan Selim II of the Ottoman Empire. It was later owned by the Barons de Rothschild family, whose collections included such masterpieces as the Belles Heures of the Duc de Berry and the Hours of Catherine of Cleves. Today, folios from the Shahnameh are treasured in museum collections internationally, including New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art; The Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C; The Aga Khan Museum, Toronto; The David Collection, Copenhagen; The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, London; The Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Tehran.
A Pair of crescent-shaped Pearl and Diamond Earrings, from late 18th century India (est. £50,000-70,000)
Apart from that, the auction also features a Fatimid carved rock crystal bottle from Egypt, from late 10th-early 11th century (est. £40,000-60,000). A Pair of crescent-shaped Pearl and Diamond Earrings, from late 18th century India (est. £50,000-70,000) are also to be auctioned. These diamond earrings were a part of the collection of the Nizam of Hyderabad, a dynasty of wealthy rulers known for their spectacular collection of jewels. The family had inherited gemstones from the earlier rulers of Deccan, who oversaw the famous Golconda mines – the world’s only supplier of diamonds for centuries. They were last exhibited at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York’s exhibition on the Sultans of Deccan India, in 2015.
A double-sided illustration of the Tarikh-i-Alfi (The History of A Thousand Years), India, Imperial Mughal, circa 1590 (est. £250,000-350,000)
As a part of the manuscripts, a double-sided illustration of the Tarikh-i-Alfi (The History of A Thousand Years), India, Imperial Mughal, circa 1590 (est. £250,000-350,000), will come under the hammer. The “History of a Thousand Years” was written for Mughal Emperor Akbar between 1582-88 and recounted the ruling Caliphs through the Islamic period. This work is a rare folio, considered the last remaining in private hands, with only approximately 18 or so others known to survive. Many are in museum collections, including The Museum of Fine Arts Boston, The Freer|Sackler Gallery, Washington D.C., The British Museum, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The San Diego Museum of Art and The National Museum New Delhi.
An illuminated Qu'ran, Mughal India, second half 17th century, est. £20,000-30,000.
The auction will also offer 15 Indian paintings from the collection of Betsy Salinger. The selection, not seen on the market in decades, crosses centuries, spanning lavish Mughal folios to the distinctive styles of the lyrical Pahari schools, the dynamic Rajasthani schools, the masterful Mughal and Deccani schools and court ateliers.
An Encampment of Ascetics, circa 1680 (est. £60,000-80,000)
Among the highlights is The Pilgrimage of Maharana Sangram Singh of Mewar, circa 1720-30 (est. £80,000-120,000). Commemorating a historic royal pilgrimage to the temple and shrines of Srinathji in Nathdwara, it is impressive both for its large scale and the complexity of the composition. Also from the collection is An Encampment of Ascetics, circa 1680 (est. £60,000-80,000), a Deccani painting depicting a group of 40 figures in the wilderness, all in various states of intoxication.