Sotheby's is staging what it calls its most comprehensive series of exhibitions and sales covering the history of Middle Eastern art. Edward Baran reports.
Sotheby's is staging what it calls its most comprehensive series of exhibitions and sales to cover the history of Middle Eastern art. Five sales, which range from the contemporary to the ancient, will complement a series of talks and lectures by leading scholars from the region. The auction house says Middle Eastern art is an area in which interest is growing. SOUNDBITE: Benedict Carter, Sotheby's, saying (English): "I'd say I've seen a boom. A lot of the major museums have reinstalled their Islamic galleries, you know the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Louvre in Paris and then the opening of new museums like the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha in Qatar, so there has been a lot interest." Among the big ticket items in the upcoming 'Arts of the Islamic World' sale are an Ottoman tortoiseshell, mother-of-pearl, ivory and a brass inlaid scribe's box from late 16th century Turkey, estimated at 200,000 to 300,000 pounds. Also on offer at the auction is a collection from a distinguished Egyptian lawyer Octave Borelli Bay, led by a pair of 14th century Mamluk carved wood and ivory inlaid panels from Egypt, which were then mounted as doors in the 19th century - estimated at up to 200,000 pounds. Another of the most expensive works is an extremely rare and finely decorated Koran leaf in eastern Kufic script, estimated at between 200,000 to 300,000 pounds. SOUNDBITE: Benedict Carter, Sotheby's, saying (English): "It's a single leaf from a Koran produced at the end of the eleventh, beginning of the twelfth century in the stylised eastern Kufic form of script which is very angular, very stylised. It actually looks very modern. To the modern minimalist taste it fits in very well." Among the highlights of the 20th century sale will be a piece called 'On the Banks of the Nile' by Egyptian sculptor Mahmoud Mokhtar. The auctions will be held between April 19th and 21st in London.