Islamic Art & Manuscripts including an early Qajar portrait of Shah

15/04/2019     News Stories & Press Release, Islamic & Indian Art

LONDON: On May 3, Roseberys London will bring to auction nearly 400 lots of historic artefacts heralding from the fascinating and diverse civilisations of the Middle East and wider Islamic world, including Arabic manuscripts, Persian paintings and Ottoman Turkish works of art.

Alice Bailey, Head of the Islamic and Indian Arts department, comments: ‘The May 3 auction of Islamic Art and Manuscripts features the arts of the Islamic world as well as a small selection of antiquities. Metalwork and glass are highlights of the sale with a number of Khorassan pieces including a superb incense burner in the form of a bird. Two pieces of rare Mamluk gilded and enamelled glass are being offered. The sale features over 100 lots of manuscripts including qur’ans, medical treatises, works of poetry, astronomical and mathematic texts mainly from private collections. An unusual early Qajar portrait of Shah ‘Abbas I dated 1228AH/1813-14AD is also of note.’

A seated portrait of Shah 'Abbasi, Qajar IranIslamic medals A large Khorassan monumental bronzeAn Ottoman firman with tughra of Sultan ‘Abd al-Hamid II


Among the highlights is an unusual early Qajar portrait of Shah ‘Abbas I, dated 1228AH/1813-14AD and estimated at £7,000-10,000 (Lot 322). This early oil was painted during the reign of Fath 'Ali Shah (r.1797-1834), who was a keen patron of life-size oil portraits of himself and his sons. The choice of sitter is unusual for this period. Shah 'Abbas I (r. 1 October 1588-19 January 1629), distinguishable by his distinctive moustache, is one of Iran's great rulers from the earlier Safavid dynasty.
He is accompanied in the portrait by a young Safavid prince at his side who is identified as Suleyman Mirza, the son of king Tahmasp I (r.1524–1576) who was murdered by his half-brother in 1632. The oil on canvas bears the inscription 'Shah Abbas, whose place is in paradise, 1228AH/1813/14AD'.

The sale also includes a group of 20th century medals and orders relating to another Iranian royal dynasty. The Pahlavi dynasty was the last ruling house of the Imperial State of Iran from 1925 until it was overthrown in the Islamic Revolution in 1979 (Lot 368).  The group features a commemorative medal in bronze, gilt and enamel for the marriage of Mohammad Reza Shah (Iran’s last Shah) to his first wife Queen Fawzia in 1939 and bronze medals commemorating the coronation of his third and final wife Fara Diba as Shahbanou in 1967 and the couple with one of their sons. The eight-piece group, some still retained in their original blue gilt boxes, is estimated at £800-1,200.

There are over a dozen fine bronze pieces originating from Khorassan in north eastern Iran during the late middle ages, including finely decorated ewers, bowls, oil lamps and candlesticks. Among the highlights is a monumental bronze openwork oil lamp and stand dating to the 13th century (Lot 213). It was acquired by the seller in 2013 from a long-standing private collection dating back to the 1960s and carries an estimate of £5,000-7,000. More affordable but no less decorative is an oil lamp with peacock mounted handles and a lid in the form a cat head, 12th/ 13th century, which is estimated at £300-500 (Lot 173).

A star lot in a comprehensive section of manuscripts is an Ottoman Turkish firman – a Royal mandate or decree – bearing the gold calligraphic monogram tughra of Sultan ‘Abd al-Hamid II (r. 1876-1909) (Lot 142)
The precious piece is dated to AH1391/ 1891AD and contains black diwani script embellished with fine gold floral lattice and a large triangular medallion with flamed borders on a blue ground. It carries hopes of £4,000-6,000.
From Persia are two 17th century calligraphic manuscripts based on the writings of the great Persian mystic and scholar Khwajah 'Abdallah Ansari, signed by Shah Qasim (Lot 59).
Shah Qasim worked in the dar al-sultaneh in Herat where he specialised in nasta'liq - specific style for writing in the Arabic alphabet. His recorded work is dated between AH1002/1593AD and AH1028/1619AD.
The manuscripts are on marbled or gold sprinkled paper with multicoloured margins illuminated with flora and fauna and are estimated together at £4,000-6,000.

Estimated at £10,000-15,000, is a large and impressive Umayyad carved marble capital from Madinat Al-Zahra, the vast fortified Moorish medieval palace-city built by Abd-ar-Rahman III in Andalusia, Spain (Lot 177). Built in 25 years from 936AD, the city included ceremonial reception halls, mosques, administrative and government offices, gardens, a mint, workshops, barracks, residences and baths. Ruined around 100 years later in a civil war, Medina Azahara was effectively wiped off the map for a millennium. In 2018, it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Two works by Khwajah 'Abdullah Ansari A large Umayyad carved marble capitalIslamic helmut Mosaic


The capital dates to the second half of the 10th century and is carved with scrolling flowering vine, protruding leaves and pronounced volutes.

Islamic tiles are well represented in the sale with around 20 lots originating from Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan and Syria. An Iznik underglaze painted pottery tile fragment made in Turkey in c.1540 is estimated at £600-800 (Lot 307). Consigned from a private collection in Geneva, it is decorated in cobalt and turquoise on a white ground with a spray of seven carnation flowers emerging from a vase. Tiles of similar age and composition can be seen in the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, decorating part of an exterior wall of the harem.

As well as arts from the Islamic world, the sale will also include a small selection of antiquities. An impressive Corinthian partial helmet hammered from a single heavy sheet of bronze with almond-shaped eyeholes, is estimated at £1,200-1,500 (Lot 17). Originating from Ancient Greece during the Archaic period (c.2nd half of the 7th century BC), it comes with an old collection label to the interior and a wooden plinth.

You can find the full catalogue here. 



Islamic Art & Manuscripts Friday 3 May starting at 10am

Preview Event at The Clubhouse, St James
Thursday 25 April 12 noon pm - 5.00 pm 
Friday 26 April 10.00 am - 4.00 pm 

Viewing Times at Roseberys:

Tuesday 30 April 9.30 am - 5.30 pm 
Wednesday 1 May 9.30 am - 5.30 pm 
Thursday 2 May 9.30 am - 5.30 pm


For further information please contact Peigi Mackillop +44 (0) 20 8761 2522





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