The First Art Newspaper on the Net Established in 1996 United States Saturday, September 20, 2014


Sotheby's to Sell Newly Discovered Ottoman Ivory and Turquoise-Inlaid Box
An Ottoman Ivory and Turquoise-Inlaid Box Set with Rubies, Turkey, Early 16th Century. Estimate: £500,000-700,000. Photo: Sotheby's
LONDON.- Sotheby’s announced that on Wednesday, April 14, 2010 in its biannual Arts of the Islamic World Auction, it will present for sale an unrecorded and hitherto lost early-16th century Ottoman ivory and turquoise-inlaid box set with rubies. This unique treasure, crafted by Persian goldsmiths working for the Ottoman court for a high-ranking courtly figure, is believed to have been made to contain scales to measure the weight of gemstones and was not known to exist until its recent rediscovery. Ottoman objects of such exquisite craftsmanship and quality rarely appear on the market and its sale is set to generate enormous excitement and interest among collectors, connoisseurs and scholars alike. The box is estimated at £500,000-700,000.

Commenting on this exquisite work of art and its rediscovery, Edward Gibbs, Senior Director and Head of Sotheby’s Middle East and India Department, said: “This superlative object highlights the exceptionally refined masterpieces produced by Persian goldsmiths working for the Ottoman court at the beginning of the 16th century. Its sumptuous ornamentation is unmatched in elegance and skill, rendering it an item of the highest aesthetic and historical value. Its rediscovery provides further insight into the astonishing talent of Safavid craftsmen during the first half of the 16th century and it will undoubtedly be studied by scholars for years to come.”

Measuring 17.3cm in length, 8.8cm in width and 3.2cm in height, and centred on a ruby jewelled-rosette, the box’s ivory filets and mosaic-sliced turquoise or firuzekari finely frame a series of symmetrical panels containing intricately carved and gold-inlaid vegetal patterns in what can be called the 'international Timurid style'.

The inscriptions on the lid of the box provide significant insight into the practical function of the box: ‘nabvad mihaki hamcho tarazu be-jahan / ta sang-e sabokbar be-meqdar-e garan / yak kaffe-ye u buvad mah o digar mehr /oftadeh qerane mehr o mah dar mizan’ ('There is no touchstone (?) like these scales in the world / To measure stones light and yet precious / One tray is like the moon, the other the sun / The conjunction of the sun and moon has fallen in its balance'). From the first two verses, it can be inferred that the box contained scales precise enough to measure the weight of gemstones. The ivory interior, decorated with a central jewelled medallion and four corner spandrels in gold and niello, shows remains of either an internal fitting or the original contents described by the poetic calligraphy on the exterior.

The extravagant luxury of Persian objects comprising precious metals and stones is recorded in early-16th-century accounts of Portuguese ambassadors to Shah Ismail's (founder of the Safavid Empire) court. During his stay at the Shah's encampment near Tabriz, Portuguese ambassador Tenreiro described 'bottles of gold and silver with turquoises and rubies inchased upon them'1, suggesting that such objects were meant for the exclusive use of the Shah and the governing elite.

An important victory at the battle of Chaldiran on August 23, 1514 marked Selim I's (Sultan of the Ottoman Empire between 1512 and 1520) successful campaign against Shah Ismail and led to the subsequent occupation of Tabriz in Persia, during which time an important number of the Shah's treasures were captured as booty and taken back to Istanbul. Though treasure taken by Selim during the sack of Tabriz no doubt included the finest of objects, among the most precious assets sent to Istanbul were the skilled artisans who were captured and taken to work in the Sultan's workshops. Persian goldsmiths or 'Acem had been active in Istanbul as early as 1480, but it is reasonable to conclude that the influx after 1514 was crucial in establishing their prominence in the Ottoman capital.

Though its floral decoration is highly reminiscent of Ottoman fashion, the meticulous nielloed gold work recalls Safavid traditions. Its superb quality is matched only by a handful of items now at the Topkapi Saray Museum in Istanbul, with which it shares strong correlations. With its turquoise fittings, set rubies and inscriptions, the most comparable example in the museum collection is a pen case with inkwell from circa 1500, which closely resembles the present box. While academic opinion is divided as to whether the Topkapi example belonged to the Shah himself and was part of Selim's booty or attributable to an 'Acem working for the Ottoman court, the offered lot is believed to have been produced by Persian goldsmiths working for the Ottoman court.

Removed from Persia following the battle of Chaldiran and now in the Topkapi Saray Museum, the intricate and varied arabesque designs on gold of a group of plaques from a belt bearing the titles and name of Shah Ismail I, as well as an armband signed by the craftsman Nur Allah (dated 913 AH/1507-8 AD), echo the present box's layered splitpalmette scrolls in carved and inlaid gold. The parallels are even more evident in the most ornate buckle, which contains comparable blossoming rosettes set with rubies and turquoise gems. With its turquoise mosaic, ruby gems and split-palmette patterns, but particularly in the ivory filets, carefully fitted along the object's edges, this unique lost treasure also bears a strong resemblance to an equivalent important mid-16th century box in the Topkapi Saray Museum collection.

The box links the traditions of Tabriz and Istanbul and embodies a cultural merging in the stylistic evolution of Ottoman courtly art at a seminal phase in its development.

Sotheby's | Edward Gibbs | Islamic World |


Today's News

March 26, 2010

Prado Museum Rediscovers Paintings from Its Collection with Opening of New Galleries

United Kingdom Arts Institutions to Government: Don't Ax Funds

Nolan's Ned Kelly Masterpiece Breaks Australia's Auction Record

Commission Unveils Design Concept for National Eisenhower Memorial

Sotheby's to Sell Newly Discovered Ottoman Ivory and Turquoise-Inlaid Box

South African Art Sale Exceeds Expectations at Bonhams

Discursive Painting from Albers to Zobernig at MUMOK

Guggenheim Exhibition Explores Memory, Trauma and Return to the Past

High Museum Explores Salvador Dalí's Late Work in August 2010

Ian Johnson's 'TimeScale' on View at Gooden Gallery in London

VMFA Appoints Geza von Habsburg as Guest Curator of Faberge Collection

Major Retrospective Exhibition of the Work of Rupert Bunny Opens in Melbourne

Ballet Dancer Dame Margot Fonteyn's Dress for Sale at Bonhams

Discover America's Roots In First-Ever Charles Deas Retrospective

Modigliani Drawing Brings $84,000 at Swann Galleries' Auction

MoMA's 2010 Party in the Garden to Honor Ronald and Jo Carole Lauder

National Gallery of Canada Realigns Its Organization

Chinesca Culture Offering Found in Tepic

Stolen Henry Moore Sculpture Found in Toronto

London Art Event Seeks to Help Asian Elephants

Most Popular Last Seven Days



1.- Fever mounts as stunning statues found at Alexander The Great-era tomb

2.- Hi-tech underground scans reveal vast complex of monuments at Britain's Stonehenge

3.- National Geographic Museum opens exhibition featuring shark-munching Spinosaurus

4.- First major New York City exhibition to explore Vienna Actionism opens at Hauser & Wirth

5.- Elizabeth I 'airbrushed' for 18th century make-over and a bug is found in Edward VI

6.- Award winning Swedish director Daniel Fridell to direct Kalliope Films' Vincent Van Gogh biopic

7.- Comprehensive retrospective exhibition of Joan Miró's work opens at the Albertina

8.- Synchrotron radiation technology in art conservation: Science to the rescue of art

9.- Mona Kuhn's first solo exhibition in the US opens at Edwynn Houk Gallery

10.- Sotheby's announces details of its sales series for Property from the Collection of Mrs. Paul Mellon

Related Stories



Important Judaica and Israeli & international art bring a combined $7.9 million at Sotheby's New York

Sotheby's New York to offer The Andy Williams Collection of Navajo blankets in May 2012

Buhl Collection brings $12.3M - Highest ever total for a private collection of photos sold at auction

'Casablanca' piano sells in NY for more than $600K

No bidder found for letters by 'Peanuts' creator

Sotheby's names President and CEO William F. Ruprecht as Chairman of the Board of Directors

Sotheby's announces first ever selling exhibition of contemporary art from central Asia and the Caucasus

Mick Jagger love letters written to American singer Marsha Hunt sold at London auction

House of Illustration raises 68,750 in "What are they like?" Celebrity Auction at Sotheby's London

Swiss contemporary art generates enthusiasm among collectors at Sotheby's



Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 

Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez - Marketing: Carla Gutiérrez
Special Contributor: Liz Gangemi - Special Advisor: Carlos Amador
Contributing Editor: Carolina Farias

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org theavemaria.org juncodelavega.org facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site