Auctions | April 3, 2024

Rare Manuscript of the Khamsas of Nizami Leads Christies Auction


An important Shirazi copy of the Khamsas of Nizami and Amir Khusraw Dihlavi prepared for the Master Illuminator Lutfallah Shirazi. Shiraz, Iran. (Estimate £500,000-700,000, US$640,000-890,000).

Christie’s has announced its bi-annual Spring sale of Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds including Rugs and Carpets will be held at Christie’s London headquarters on April 25. 

The main highlight is a rare and complete illustrated manuscript copy of the Khamsa of Nizami (d.1209) together with the Khamsa of Amir Khusraw Dihlavi (d.1325). This splendid manuscript copy of the two Khamsas is an outstanding example of Safavid manuscript production in the first half of the 17th century. Dated AH 1033/ September 14 1624 AD and 1035/15 July 1626 AD. The estimate is £500,000-700,000 / US$640,000-890,000).  

Also going under the hammer will be a watercolor album depicting a selection of known prestigious and rare Iznik ceramics from the Louis Houth collection signed by Alan Barlow, who was also a collector in this field (U.K. circa 1900). The album comprises 44 single and double-page watercolour paintings of Iznik bowls, flasks, ewers and dishes. 

Nearly all the Iznik vessels painted in the album are now in some of the most prestigious institutions around the world including the British Museum and the V&A. The estimate is £20,000-30,000 / US$26,000-38,000). 

Additionally, there will be a folio from The Fraser Album depicting the elephant Mowla Bakhsh from the imperial Mughal stable of Akbar II (r. 1759-1837) by a  'Fraser Album' artist, Delhi, North India, 1815-19 (estimate £180,000-220,000 / US$230,000-280,000) and previously owned by film producer Ismail Merchant. The 'Fraser Album' is a collection comprising some of the most important paintings in the Company School style, painted in India by artists in the 19th century, commissioned by British patrons.
Sara Plumbly, Head of Department, Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds said: "We are delighted to offer a wide variety of works of art from across the Islamic and Indian worlds this season. We are particularly excited about three Islamic private collections, all with long provenance, that highlight the breadth and diversity of the artistic traditions of Iran – from Safavid textiles and painting to medieval pottery. The fabulous Khamsa of Nizami meanwhile is  a demonstration of the absolute height of manuscript production in the early 17th century."