LONDON'S twice-yearly series of Islamic sales can usually be relied upon to produce some dramatic results as the deep-pocketed collectors that dominate this market battle to secure their chosen prizes. The latest Islamic series, featuring sales at Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Bonhams, was no exception, with some huge prices generated at all three houses for tiles, Isnik pottery, daggers and jewelled objects.
But headlining the series was a five-lot collection of 17th and 18th century jewelled Mughal works, pictured right, offered by Christie’s in their April 27 auction of Islamic art and manuscripts, that provided £4.1m of the sale’s £9.6m hammer total. The group, comprising a jade bottle flask, dagger, jade bowl, agate fly whisk and huqqa set, formed part of the treasury of objects brought back to England from India in the 18th century by the wealthy administrator, soldier and adventurer Robert Clive, first Baron Clive of Plassey, better known as Clive of India.
They had passed down to his descendants, who were offering them for sale last week and all except the bottle, which had been on loan to the Victoria & Albert Museum, had been on show at Powis Castle until last year.
Three of these pieces generated particularly fierce competition. The jade flask, inlaid in gold and silver and inset with rubies and emeralds, set a new auction record for an Indian work of art when it sold for £2.6m; the garnet and gemset, banded agate fly whisk left its £5000-8000 estimate standing as the bidding reached £800,000, and the gem-set, jade-hilted dagger was pursued to £650,000. The carved nephrite bowl contributed a further £45,000 and the sapphire- and ruby-mounted enamelled silver huqqa set £80,000. All five lots were bought by the same purchaser.
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