An example came at Watlington, Oxfordshire, saleroom Jones & Jacob (18% buyer’s premium) when a folio of nine signed prints by Iraqi artist Dia al-Azzawi (b.1939) drew fervent competition against an estimate of just £50-70.
The artist has been a notable name since he fled his homeland in 1976 and his works are now held in several international museums.
While his paintings can easily sell for tens of thousands of pounds, his prints tend to make sums in the low thousands.
But it seems likely that eagle-eyed bidders identified this group as a rare complete set of al-Azzawi’s The Mu’allaqat – a series of silkscreens executed in 1978 and produced in an edition of 60.
Measuring 3ft 5in x 2ft 4in (1.04m x 71cm), they were made as a homage to seven historical Arabic poems – the title can be translated as ‘The Hanging Odes’, as these poems were hung in the Ka’ba at Mecca.
At the auction, the lot was knocked down at £7900. The only other record of this set selling at auction was at Bonhams in November 2017 when another example fetched £22,000 at a specialist Middle Eastern art sale in London.
The sale was held on October 14.