The United Kingdom and Middle East have an undoubtedly complicated relationship. While they are bonded by many different strings, one that has always connected these cultures was an appreciation for one another’s art.
In 1976, Queen Elizabeth II held the first World of Islam Festival in Britain. In 2016, the series of exhibitions is celebrating a 40th anniversary. However Queen Elizabeth II wasn’t the only one praising Islamic art in 1976. That same year, Sotheby’s auction house hosted London’s first ‘Islamic Week’, which has taken place in April and October every year since.
According to Sotheby’s, “The emphasis was on unity – the central ideas of an Islamic culture that ran like a thread through 1400 years of diverse art and science. This same artistic thread has provided the mainstay of the huge number of sales that have taken place at Sotheby’s since this landmark festival.”
To honor four decades of celebrating Islamic art, Sotheby’s is hosting a series of five auctions that will showcase their most diverse and grand selection of Middle Eastern art to date. You can expect to find antique jewelry, contemporary art, sculpture work and more. Picture a Qajar diamond and enamel ‘Neshane Astrab’ (Order of the Sun) from Persia, circa 1915-16, a gem-set gold and enamel necklace from 18th century Morocco, a Persian diamond brooch and a piece of an Ottoman headdress encrusted with rubies and diamonds. Now picture those in your very own home.
The five Sotheby’s London sales will take place from April 19-21 as follows:
1. The Library of Mohamed and Margaret Makiya: 19 April, 10.30am
2. The Orientalist Sale: 19 April, 2.30pm
3. Arts of the Islamic World: 20 April, 10.30am
4. 20th Century Art / Middle East: 20 April, 3.00pm
5. Alchemy: Objects of Desire: 21 April, 2.00pm