June 2019: An Important Month for the Market of Islamic Arts
18 Jun 2019
(by the Islamic Arts specialist Dr. Isabelle Imbert Ph.D.)
Millon et Associés opens with an important auction of 389 lots. Following last autumn unexpected enthusiasm for manuscripts, the house aims to sustain the momentum with 114 items on paper such as manuscripts, calligraphies, paintings and archives. This is overall an audacious choice that might lead to a few surprises. Among the most interesting lots is presented an important Qur’an produced in Mamluk Egypt around 1330, decorated with beautiful illuminations characteristic of the first half of the 14th century, particularly a double-frontispiece entirely covered in blue and golden geometrical designs (25.000/30.000€). As well, an impressive genealogy of the Prophet Muhammad produced in Ottoman Turkey in 1595 is offered for 8.000/12.000€. With a total length of 6.25m, the scroll traces back the family tree of the Prophet of Islam over 22 generations. In between names, the surface is covered in floral designs, especially tulips, carnations, roses and hyacinths, emblematic of Ottoman decorative repertoire.
Ader offers overall a good variety of items, from small Orientalist watercolours for 250/300€ to more ethnographic artefacts such as Touareg bags and sandals from the early 20th century. Interestingly, both Ader and Millon include contemporary artworks in their selection. While early photographs have become a fully-fledged part of French and British premodern Islamic art auctions and Orientalist paintings and sculptures from the 19th to the early 20th c. have been sold in Paris for some time, art pieces by alive artists are usually sold in dedicated auctions in London, New York, Dubai or Tehran. Contemporary artists are not currently represented by French houses, most probably because the Parisian market for such pieces is still feeble, and it is therefore particularly interesting to see pieces by artists such as Abol (Iranian, b.1948) and Ahmad Moalla (Syrian, b. 1958) in both upcoming auctions. While Ader doesn’t segregate this category of lots and spread them amongst the premodern items, Millon, with a larger selection, groups most of the lots between the Orientalist section and the 19th c. photographs. Both houses have opted for accessible creations, mostly centered on Arabic calligraphy or figuration. It will be very interesting to see the reaction of the market through the results.
While Parisian auctions are full of promises, Christie’s Jewelry is making history with one of the most important sales of Indian jewelry the world has ever seen, intitled Maharajas & Mughal Magnificence. The Sheikh Hamad al-Thani, son of a former Qatari prime minister and cousin of the current Emir, is putting for auction a large part of his collection amassed since 2009, after an exhibition tour of 4 years in London, Paris, Venice San Francisco and Beijing. A total of 388 lots, all most exquisite and refined than the other, will be sold on the 19th June.
Interestingly, all the lots given an estimate below 50.000$ will be sold without a reserve price. This decision might reflect Christie’s concern regarding the capability of the market to absorb such a large quantity of high value items in one auction. The catalogue itself is overwhelming and despite the disparities of valuations, no clear headline stands out. However, several lots are expected to excite the buyers, especially a jade dagger owned by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (1627-1658) valued at 1.500.000/2.500.000$. Of great historical significance, the origin of the dagger is relatively well documented, especially the jade stone carved into the hilt, brought from China. Though the carved head has not been precisely identified, it represents a European contribution to Mughal jewelry, both in the technique and the subject matter.
The rest of the catalogue displays a flow of carved emeralds and rubies, ceremonial daggers inlaid with diamonds, antique jewels, refined album paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries and enamelled boxes. It will be really interesting to see the results of the auction, as the results promise to break many records.
Discover more Fine Art highlights on Lot-Art.com!
LOT-ART | The Art Investment Platform