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CAIS NEWS ©

Latest Archaeological and Cultural News of Iran and the Iranian World

 

Persian miniature could fetch $5 million at auction

 

28 March 2011

 

 

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Edward Gibbs, head of Sotheby's Middle East art department, holds up; "Faridun In the Guise Of A Dragon Tests His Sons" a piece from the Shahnamah of Shah Tahmasp of Iran, or the "Book of Kings", before hanging it at Sotheby's in New York March 16, 2011.

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Edward Gibbs, head of Sotheby's Middle East art department, shows notes handwritten by Stuart Cary Welch on the backboard of "Faridun In the Guise Of A Dragon Tests His Sons". The illustrated page from a rare 500-year-old manuscript detailing the early history of Persia is expected to sell for as much as $5 million when it auctioned for the first time in London next month. It is the highlight of a one-week exhibit at Sotheby's opening on Friday in New York and the top item in the London sale on April 6 of the collection of Welch, a former curator of Islamic art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

  (Click to enlarge)

LONDON, (CAIS) -- An illustrated page from a rare 500-year-old Persian manuscript detailing the early history of Iran is expected to sell for as much as $5 million when it auctioned for the first time in London next month.

The exquisitely detailed work is one of 258 miniatures from the Shahnamah of Shah Tahmasp of Iran, or "the Book of Kings."

It is the highlight of a one-week exhibit at Sotheby's opening on Friday in New York and the top item in the London sale on April 6 of the collection of Stuart Cary Welch, a former curator of Islamic art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

"It is arguably the greatest illustrated manuscript ever produced, in any culture," said Edward Gibbs, head of Sotheby's Middle East art department.

The manuscript, done between 1525-1535, chronicles the history of Iran, from prehistoric times to the 7th century CE.

Made for Shah Tahmasp I, it was commissioned by his father, the founder of the Safavid dynasty. The work depicts King Fraidun's transformation into a dragon to test his three sons' loyalty.

Other pages from the manuscript hang on the walls of museums in Tehran, Berlin, Doha and New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The leaf is one of the few remaining in private hands, Gibbs said, and the first to come to market since 2005.

Previous owners included the kings of  Iran and Barons Edmund and Maurice de Rothschild. Welch acquired the work in 1977 and wrote on the frame's backboard, "Amazed by its quality."

He described it as the costliest acquisition he had ever made.

Gibbs said Welch "had an exceptional eye for quality, refinement and rarity."

He added that although Islamic art is a niche market, it has expanded since the Shah of Iran began collecting in the 1970s. During the 1990s demand for Islamic art grew with the addition of collectors from the Middle East, in particular the Persian Gulf region.

 

Related article: Destroying a Treasure: The Sad Story of a Manuscript

 

 

 

 

 

Original news bulletin published by Reuters  rectified and edited by CAIS [*]

 

 

 

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"History is the Light on the Path to Future"

 

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Encyclopaedia Iranica


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The British Institute of Persian Studies


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The British Museum


The Royal

Asiatic Society


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The Persian Gulf

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