Rare Ottoman pottery going under the hammer at Bonhams

25th, 2013
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imageRare samples of 16th-century İznik pottery from the Ottoman Empire are going under the hammer next week in London at an April 23 Islamic and Indian art sale at Bonhams auction house.

Two large İznik bottles dated around 1575, the golden age of the Ottoman Empire, are among the highlights of the sale, with estimated prices of between 50,000 and 80,000 pounds ($76,000-120,000), according to the auctioneers’ website.

The New Bond Street-based auction house said in a press release it issued last month that the April 23 sale would mark the return of the two rare bottles to New Bond Street nearly a century after they were sold by antiques dealer Frank Dickinson from his gallery at 104 New Bond Street in January 1919. The buyer was Leonard Daneham Cunliffe, the deputy governor of the Bank of England, who used his collection of antiques to decorate his various homes. When Cunliffe died in 1937, the major part of his vast collection was bequeathed to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge while the İznik bottles passed to his step-daughter, Ida Copeland.

Adorned with bold and colorful floral designs, the bottles were originally purchased as “Rhodian” bottles, wrongly named after the Greek island of Rhodes. They were recently identified as İznik and dating to circa 1575, the Bonhams press release said.

Alice Bailey, head of Bonhams Islamic Department, says: “To find one İznik bottle of this type from the second half of the 16th century is very rare, but to come across two splendid examples in the same English collection is astonishing. The market for important İznik ceramics is very strong, particularly among Turkish collectors, and these pieces are certainly worthy of a major collection or institution.”

Objects ranging from silver mirrors to İznik dishes and Ottoman fountain panels, and from a 16th-century illuminated Qur’an to Ottoman sultans’ firmans (edicts) are also among the 438 lots to be sold on Tuesday.

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