Excerpts From Sotheby’s Islamic, South Asian & Middle Eastern Week
Sotheby’s Islamic, South Asian & Middle Eastern Week features works spanning centuries, continents, and dynasties. The auction series officially runs from October 20th through October 27th, 2021. Bidders will find paintings influenced by traditions originating 2,000 years ago, as well as diamond and emerald spectacles commissioned by emperors of the majestic Mughal eras. The offerings include two timed auctions and three live sales.
Auction Daily surveys the notable Islamic, South Asian & Middle Eastern items coming to auction this week.
The Carlton Rochell Collection of Company School Paintings
Sotheby’s Islamic, South Asian & Middle Eastern Week will highlight a live sale on October 27th, 2021. The auction showcases Carlton Rochell’s collection of Company School paintings. The East India Company was a key stepping stone for the British Empire in its successful attempt to colonize the Indian subcontinent. During the 18th and 19th centuries, officials of the East India Company commissioned thousands of paintings from local Indian artists. Some of these artists, each accomplished in their own right, remained anonymous since their works were published under the umbrella name of the Company School.
The works comprise an eclectic mix of science and art, including zoology, architecture, and botanical representations. Among the notable lots is a depiction of the greater Indian fruit bat or flying fox (Pteropus giganteus) from the Impey Album. It is signed by Bhawani Das from the Company School and dated circa 1778-83. The piece has an estimate of GBP 300,000 to £500,000 (USD 413,765 – $689,608).
Mary Impey, the wife of Sir Elijah Impey, had a profound interest in large wading birds. A painting showing a stork (Mycteria leucocephala) eating a snail signed by Shaykh Zayn al-Din, Company School, Calcutta was one of the several illustrations commissioned by Lady Impey. Formerly owned by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, the 1781 painting is estimated to sell for between GBP 200,000 and £300,000 (USD 275,850 – $413,775).
Arts of the Islamic World & India
Continuing Sotheby’s Islamic, South Asian & Middle Eastern Week is a sale of art from the Islamic World & India. The catalog includes a selection of rugs and carpets. Two rare Mughal spectacles made of gemstones are particularly notable. The Mughals enjoyed their reputation as connoisseurs of indulgence and exuberance. Slices of diamond and emerald form the spectacles’ lenses, originally weighing over 200 and 300 carats, respectively. Diamonds stud the frames.
One pair of Mughal spectacles set with emerald lenses in diamond-mounted frames is expected to fetch GBP 1,500,000 to £2,500,000 (USD 2,068,823 – $3,448,038). The emeralds were likely sourced from the Muzo mines of Columbia. Emerald reflects the Muslim symbolism of salvation and eternity, while diamond is associated with the presence of God. In this auction, collectors will also find a significant silver and gold candlestick from 13th-century Mosul (GBP 2,000,000 – £3,000,000 / USD 2,758,500 – $4,137,750).
The Orientalist Sale
Western paintings capturing the landscapes, people, and cultures of North Africa, Egypt, the Levant, Arabia, and the Ottoman world will be showcased during Sotheby’s timed Orientalist Sale. Prayer in the Mosque, Cairo, a painting by Frederick Arthur Bridgman, is offered with an estimate of GBP 150,000 to £250,000 (USD 206,882 – $275,843). Bridgman was an American artist known for his depictions of the Middle East. He created the available work in 1876, a couple of years after his first and only trip to Cairo. In his representation of Muslim prayer rituals, Bridgman often showed devotees in different prayer positions instead of one unified movement. Works by Jean-Léon Gérôme, Carl Werner, and Edwin Lord Weeks are available as well.
Additional events during Sotheby’s Islamic, South Asian & Middle Eastern Week include a live auction of modern and contemporary South Asian art, as well as a timed sale of 20th-century Middle Eastern art. Francis Newton Souza’s highly coveted Landscape (Red Building) and an untitled work by Bahman Mohassess are featured.