A large and important album of watercolours reflecting Indian life during the 19th century has sold at the top of Sotheby's auction of Arts of The Islamic World, which was held in London yesterday (April 24).
The album dates to circa 1832-1835, showing costumes, artisans, trades, processions and dignitaries. It sold for £422,500 ($644,443), making a 40.8% increase on estimate.
An East India Company official living in Vellore during the 1830s originally commissioned the album. It provides a fascinating insight into Indian culture during the period and is unusual in both its size and content, with a rare image of the artist and a picture of the patron's home included.
Bringing the second highest bids was a magnificent silk lampas robe and feathered hat, which originates from Central Asia during the 11th-12th century. Selling for £242,500 ($369,888), the garments came from Sogdiana, an ancient civilisation that lay on the main trade route between China, Byzantium and Persia.
Sharing this price was an intricate model of The Dome of the Rock, one of the most important sites in Islam. Built by the Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik in AD 691, the dome is found on Temple Mount in the Old City of Jersulam and is a popular place for pilgrimage and worship.
With this being Islamic Art Week for many of the leading auction houses, several high profile sales have already taken place. Bonhams achieved a world record for an Ottoman Iznik bottle on April 23, while Sotheby's sale in Doha achieved the highest ever total for a contemporary art sale in the Middle East.
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