The large 12in (30cm) hexagonal painted fritware tile from 16th century Damascus, £115,000 at Olympia Auctions.

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The pairs of wavy lines and groups of three dots represent the pelts of the striped tiger and spotted leopard that came to evoke strength and power.

Tiles of this design are known in two palettes blue with apple green on a white ground, and black under a transparent blue glaze  with examples of both types in museums across the world. The Victoria and Albert Museum has a panel of 11 pieces. Some were used c.1550-1600 in the decoration of various private apartments in the Topkapi palace in Istanbul.

This example, in fine condition, came for sale at Olympia Auctions in London on June 5. It was one of 50 full or fragmentary tiles provenanced to the estate of the artist Sir Howard Hodgkin (1932-2017).

A noted collector of Iznik and Damascus pottery (more such items were sold by Dreweatts in 2019 and at Sotheby’s in 2017), he had bought it at auction in Paris.

Estimated at £10,000-15,000, it sold to a UK buyer at £115,000 (or £143,750 including 25% buyer’s premium). It is thought to be the highest price for an Ottoman hexagonal tile. A similar example from the estate of costume designer Anthony Powell (1935-2021) sold at Roseberys in October 2022 for £88,000.


Another highlight of the Olympia June 5 sale was this rare copy of Firdausi’s Shahnama (Book of Kimgs) from Lucknow, India, completed Jumada 1241 (1799AD), which hammered for £70,000 against a guide of £10,000-15,000.