A page from a 16th-century manuscript sold today for 7.4 million pounds ($12 million), an auction record for any Islamic work of art.
The illuminated sheet was one of the 258 illustrations to the “Shahnameh” and offered by Sotheby’s (BID) in its sale of works from the collection of the late Harvard lecturer Stuart Cary Welch. There were five telephone bidders.
“It’s one of the supreme examples of the art of the book,” the London-based dealer Brendan Lynch said.
The sale gave Middle Eastern buyers the chance to acquire one of the last illustrations from the book, showing King Faridun transformed into a dragon to test his sons’ courage.
The “Shahnameh” was made between 1520 and 1540 for Shah Tahmasp. The manuscript was owned by Arthur Houghton II, who donated 78 paintings to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1972.
Another 118 paintings were acquired from Houghton’s estate by the London-based dealer Oliver Hoare. In 1994, Hoare persuaded the Iranian government to accept these in exchange for Willem de Kooning’s 1952 painting “Woman III” in Tehran’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Both were valued at 13 million pounds at the time and were swapped at Vienna airport, according to the U.K.’s Independent newspaper.>>>
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