Posted on September 07, 2013

Sotheby’s is pleased to announce that from 12th – 14th September 2013 it will stage an important exhibition at Building 19, Katara Cultural Village featuring a selection of 24 highlights from the forthcoming 'Arts of the Islamic World' sale – exquisite objects exemplifying the broad artistic traditions of the Muslim world, including ceramics, metalwork, manuscripts, jewellery, weapons and paintings.

The Fall of Constantinople, Italy, probably Venice, late 15/early 16th Century (est. £180,000 - £220,000) Probably the earliest known artistic depiction of Constantinople showing the city falling to the Ottoman army under Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror

The selection that will be on view in Doha has been chosen from a total of 281 exceptional objects to be offered for sale in Sotheby’s 'Arts of the Islamic World' and 'Art of Imperial India' sales in London. The pieces that will be on display in Doha represent the very best of what will be sold on 9th October at Sotheby’s New Bond Street in London, and provide fascinating insights into Muslim history and culture, encompassing almost 1,400 years of every kind of decorative art produced in lands under Islamic patronage from Spain to India. These highlights will be the focus of a series of accompanying gallery tours at Building 19, Katara Cultural Village, which will be led by Edward Gibbs, Chairman and Head of Sotheby's Middle East Department. These tours will be held each evening at 8pm and are open to all members of the public.

Edward Gibbs, Chairman and Head of Sotheby's Middle East Department, said: "We are delighted to follow our successful sale of Contemporary Art in Doha this April with an exhibition of art objects of superb quality and importance from our forthcoming 'Arts of the Islamic World' sale in London. We have chosen a range of items that is representative of the sale in its entirety, including pieces that have an immediate relevance to the audience in Doha and those visiting the exhibition from the wider region. Doha is an ideal audience as it is home to one of the world’s outstanding collections housed in the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA), and Sotheby’s is proud of its relationship with Doha which spans over two decades."

A particularly noteworthy inclusion in the 'Arts of the Islamic World' exhibition in Doha is The Fall of Constantinople (illustrated on the first page of the press release), an extremely rare and important late fifteenth/early sixteenth century Italian oil painting of the ancient city of Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) estimated at £180,000-220,000. This is probably the earliest known artistic depiction of Constantinople showing the city falling to the Ottoman army under Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror. The painting is of the same period and context as the portrait of Mehmet Fatih (‘The Conqueror'), by the School of Gentile Bellini, in the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA), Doha. 

Further highlights on view at the exhibition will include a pair of Ottoman wooden roundels with the names of two of the Righteous Caliphs ‘Abu Bakr’ and ‘Umar’ carved in gold taliq calligraphy, dating from the first half of the 19th century and estimated at £20,000-30,000. Alongside these is a rare and beautiful large-scale Qur’an copied by the famous calligrapher Ahmed Nayrizi, with later illumination added for the Shah of Persia, Fath ‘Ali Shah, as well as a portrait of Rustam Khan Zand, signed by Muhammad Sadiq, Persia, Zand, Shiraz, circa 1779 (est. £300,000 - £500,000, illustrated right), an exquisite illustrated leaf ‘Four Young Scholars in Discussion’ signed by Muhammad Murad Samarqandi, Persia, Safavid, Bukhara, early 17th century (est. £400,000-600,000) and some fine examples of Iznik pottery and Islamic manuscripts, among other varied works of art (further details on each of these pieces on the following page).

In addition to the 'Arts of the Islamic World' sale, Sotheby’s will be holding a dedicated auction of Indian art in London entitled 'Art of Imperial India' on 9th October 2013.The auction will offer collectors high-quality and beautiful paintings, as well as objects, textiles, weaponry and luxurious works of art from the courts of the Indian subcontinent. 

Highlights of the 'Art of Imperial India' sale that will be on view in Doha will include a solid gold diamond-set enamelled gold tray and casket (pandan) dating from the 18th century and valued at £200,000-300,000 (pictured left). Items such as this are extremely rare outside museums, yet, as is often the case with precious objects, they are often carefully preserved in very good condition, and this is absolutely pristine. 

Other objects in the 'Art of Imperial India' sale include a gold and enamelled diamond-set sarpech (turban brooch) valued at £35,000-45,000; a Mughal jade, gold and gem-set dagger estimated at £20,000-25,000; and an impressive 18th-century sword with a tiger-head pommel captured from Tipu Sultan’s fortress at Seringapatam, Mysore, in 1799, which is estimated at £80,000-120,000 (illustrated right).

Further details on a selection of the highlights to be exhibited in Doha

A Portrait of Rustam Khan Zand, signed by Muhammad Sadiq, Persia, Zand, Shiraz, circa 1779 (est. £300,000 - £500,000)

This exceptional portrait of Rustam Khan Zand, of the Zand dynasty, is unusual and rare. It is an exemplary portrayal of the classic Persian ideal of youthful masculine beauty.

The painting effectively displays the artist Muhammad Sadiq’s revolutionary style, to which his students strictly adhered, and which influenced the extensive canon of royal Qajar portraiture. Rustam Khan Zand was the grandson of Karim Khan Zand’s half-brother Zaki, who ruled Iran for a year in 1779. 

Four Young Scholars in Discussion, signed by Muhammad Murad Samarqandi, Persia, Safavid, Bukhara, early 17th century (est.£400,000-600,000)

This illustrated leaf represents one of only a handful of works attributable to the truly remarkable and enigmatic artist, Muhammad Murad Samarqandi. Bearing witness to Samarquandi’s inimitable and wildly imaginative style, almost caricatural in its irreverence and originality, the painting demonstrates the artist’s characteristic dreamlike compositions and eccentric use of colour.

However, it is the border decoration – deftly illustrated with dense intertwining foliage, interspersed with animals and figures riding, conversing and running - which is virtuosic in its execution. Held in private hands since being sold at Sotheby’s in 1977, the painting is the only recorded album page by Samarquandi in which the artist is responsible for both the border and the main image, and it is arguably the most impressive and complete example of the his known works to date. 


An exceptional diamond-set and enameled gold tray and casket (pandan), North India, 18th Century (est. £200,000 – £300,000)

This extremely rare enamelled and bejewelled gold pandan box, set on a tray with eight smaller boxes, displays the wealth and taste at the Mughal court for the most lavish objects. These were used not only for personal ornamentation, but served an important diplomatic purpose, to impress and reinforce the power of their Empire.

Covered with bright green enamel and set throughout with diamonds in the kundan technique, the creator of the present box and tray has conceived a masterful combination of the highest order. The diamonds are carefully faceted to bring out the maximum brilliance of each stone. Whereas jewelled examples of this quality exist, it is incredibly rare to find this shape.

A Tipu Sultun Sword fitted with a captured English blade, Mysore, India, 18th Century (est. £80,000 - £120,000)

"Better to die like a soldier than live a miserable [life] dependent on the infidels... I would rather live two days as a tiger, than two hundred years as a sheep." Tipu Sultan, Tiger of Mysore (1750-1799)

The "bubri" or tiger-stripe motif, adopted by Tipu as his personal emblem, appears multiple times on the present sword hilt and can be compared to a very small number of hilts closely linked with the ownership of Tipu Sultan. On this particular sword the significance of this symbol is heightened by the fact that the tiger-form hilt holds in its jaw a captured English blade, highlighting the dominance of the Sultan over his English enemy.

Over the course of his life, Tipu Sultan, with his father, Hyder Ali, fought four wars against the British East India Company. This blade, which was taken from a 1788 pattern light cavalry sword made by Wooley and Deakin between 1790 and 1796, was presumably a trophy taken in action from a previous battle with the British. Tipu Sultan was eventually defeated during the fourth Mysore War and killed during the storming of the fortress of Seringapatam by the British in May 1799, when this sword was captured as booty.

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