The 18in (44cm) shallow dish – produced at the very advent of the art form in the 1480s – is a lost sibling to four similar large dishes made during the reign of Mehmet II ‘the Conqueror’ that were published in Nurhan Atasoy and Julian Raby’s landmark book Iznik: The Pottery of Ottoman Turkey (1989).
It was formerly owned by the Alexandria-born bibliophile and businessman Max Debbane (1893-1965) and consigned for sale on October 24 from an American private collection.
It attracted nine active bidders at its £300,000-500,000 estimate and at least three combatants on the phone prepared to go above £3m. The bidding contest, won by an institutional buyer, lasted a full 20 minutes.
The price ranks as the fourth highest ever for Islamic art at auction.
For more on this sale and others from Islamic Art Week see Antiques Trade Gazette next week.