Islamic Work of Art Auctioned for £7.4 Million

An auction at Sotheby’s London has established a new record for an Islamic work of art at auction when an illustrated folio from the Shahnameh made for Shah Tahmasp of Persia, universally acknowledged as one of the supreme illustrated manuscripts of any period or culture and among the greatest works of art in the world, sold for the outstanding and well above estimate sum of £7,433,250.

This exceptional illustrated leaf saw competition for almost 10 minutes from no fewer than seven bidders, both in the saleroom and on the telephones, and finally sold for nearly four times pre-sale expectations to an anonymous bidder on the telephone (pre-sale estimate: £2-3 million).

Commenting on the price achieved for the illustrated leaf in the Stuart Cary Welch Collection: Part 1. Arts of the Islamic World Sale, Edward Gibbs, Senior Director and Head of Sotheby’s Middle East Department, said: “The sale of the Shahnameh leaf today represented a rare opportunity for collectors and connoisseurs of Islamic Art and bidders from across the globe competed tenaciously to acquire this unique work of extraordinary quality and beauty. The sum achieved of £7.4 million for the folio represents a new auction record for an Islamic Work of Art and is testament to the passion and taste of the true scholar-connoisseur, Stuart Cary Welch, who assembled this remarkable collection.”

The Shahnameh or ‘Book of Kings’ is the Persian national epic and the folio in ink, opaque watercolour and gold on paper, depicts Faridun in the guise of a dragon testing his sons and was completed at the royal Safavid atelier circa 1525-1535.

Image: The Shahnameh or ‘Book of Kings’ Photo: Sotheby’s.

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