Dazzling display of art from Islamic world and India at Sotheby's London auction

The high-valued lots include gem-stoned eyewear and a gold Quran

Two pairs of emerald and diamond spectacles and a Quran written in gold are among the extraordinary highly valued pieces that will go under the hammer next week in London.

Sotheby’s Arts of the Islamic World and India auction is offering historic objects, paintings and manuscripts spanning 10 centuries.

The international auction house said it is the highest value iteration of the biannual sale in a decade. Its top lot, a gold and silver-inlaid brass candlestick from the 13th century is expected to fetch between £2 million and £3m ($2.3-$3.5m), with the auction house calling it “the finest example of Islamic metalwork to appear on the market in over 10 years”.

Recently exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Sotheby’s described the ornament, which was made in Northern Iraq about 1275, as “embodying the courtly ceremonies of the period”.

Two pairs of diamond and emerald spectacles, called Halo of Light and Gate of Paradise, respectively, are set to captivate bidders. On offer at auction for the first time, the dazzling glasses were commissioned by an unknown prince in 17th century Mughal India and are each set to go for between £1.5m and 2.5m. The auction house said the artistry used to shape the diamonds was masterly.

“They are undoubtedly a marvel for gemologists and historians alike, and it is a real thrill to be able to bring these treasures to light and to offer the world the opportunity to wonder at their brilliance and the mystery behind their creation,” said Edward Gibbs, chairman of Sotheby’s Middle East and India.

A Quran written in gold from 16th-century Persia is also available. One of few complete manuscripts in which the main body of the text has been entirely executed in gold script, the holy book could sell for up to £500,000, Sotheby’s estimates.

Astronomy enthusiasts can get their hands on some of the Muslim world’s early advances in the field through a large brass astrolabe dating back to 18th-century Morocco and a rare Mughal brass celestial globe engraved with the Arabic names of more than 1,000 stars.

Sotheby’s Arts of the Islamic World and India sales are held twice a year in April and October and exhibit high-quality artworks including calligraphy, paintings, ceramics, metalwork, jewellery and furniture produced between the seventh and 19th centuries. The past two auctions raised a combined total of more than £20m.

The auction takes place at Sotheby’s in London on October 27 where bidding can take place in-person and online.

Updated: October 23rd 2021, 11:28 AM
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