Middle eastern and Indian art fetch high prices

An important gem-set and enamelled turban ornament (sarpech), India, probably Deccan, 19th century

A 16th century portrait of the longest-reigning Ottoman emperor Suleiman the Magnificent, and a 19th century turban ornament from the family of Sikh Khalsa commander Hari Singh Nalwa, are among the few art pieces that fetched high prices at three consecutive Sotheby’s London auctions here.

The first portrait went under the hammer in the global auction house’s The Arts of the Islamic World sale on Wednesday night, and is one of the few images of an Eastern potentate by a European artist. The striking portrait of a young Suleiman the Magnificent (circa 1520) was bought by an anonymous buyer for a sprawling $7,035,005 (over Rs 48 crore), Sotheby’s said.

Details of the Sultan’s appearance were conveyed through sketches by those who had accompanied foreign embassies to the Ottoman court. This painting is also inscribed along the bottom frame Turchorum Imperator Maximus (‘Great Turkish Emperor Suleyman’).

The selection of precious Indian jewellery in the same sale was led by an important imperial gem-set and enamelled turban ornament (sarpech), from the family of Hari Singh Nalwa, which made $462,525 (about Rs 3.22 crore), Sotheby’s said.

Exquisite examples of Indian miniature painting also went under the hammer at the auction.

In another Tuesday sale of Middle Eastern modern and contemporary art, Iraqi Modernist Mahmoud Sabri’s rare, monumental masterpiece “The Death of a Child” (1963) sold for $1,152,687 (over Rs 8 crore).

As per the auction house, it appeared on the market for the first time since it was acquired directly from the artist in the 1980s. Their Orientalist Sale on Tuesday sold Jean-Leon Gerome’s rare masterpiece, “Rider and His Steed in the Desert”. The painting sold for $1,494,224 (about Rs 10 crores). One of Gerome’s most famous compositions, “Evening Prayer”, also sold at a high price, as per Sotheby’s.