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16th century folio sets Islamic art auction record
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 08 - 04 - 2011

LONDON: A 16th century illustrated portfolio from the “Shahnameh” (“Book of Kings”) of Shah Tahmasp of Persia, fetched 7.4 million pounds ($12 million) on Wednesday, a new auction record for an Islamic work of art.
The leaf from the Persian national epic depicts Faridun in the guise of a dragon testing his sons, and comes from the collection of Stuart Cary Welch, the renowned US scholar, curator and collector of Islamic and Indian art.
It was sold in London at Sotheby's in the first sale of a two-part auction of Welch's collection. The second part will take place in London in May. The auctioneer said the Shahnameh was “universally acknowledged as one of the supreme illustrated manuscripts of any period or culture and among the greatest works of art in the world.” It had been expected to fetch 2-3 million pounds.
The sale price, which includes buyer's premium, eclipsed the previous Islamic art auction record set at rival auction house Christie's last year, when a 17th century Kirman “vase” carpet from Persia fetched 6.2 million pounds.
Welch died in 2008. In an obituary in the New York Times, he was described as a man who “brought many of the masterworks of these traditions (Islam and India) to the attention of the West.”


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