The candlestick becomes the most expensive Islamic metalwork


Ilkhanid chandelier in brass inlaid with gold and silver circa 1275 – £ 5.6million at Sotheby’s.

Probably made in Iraq at the end of the 13th century, it has been part of a private European collection since the 1960s and on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York since 2017, it surfaced at Sotheby’s on October 27 where it doubled its sales expectations of 5.6 million pounds. The price with premium was £ 6.63million.

At 30cm in diameter, it is one of the largest and most imposing examples of a distinct family of faceted candlesticks produced in the Jazeera region in the 13th and early 14th centuries.

It is one of the few to be decorated with large-scale figures, depicting a majestic parade of 27 courtiers at the base with nine sides, 11 courtiers standing at the neck and shoulder and nine musicians seated at the socket. The anthropomorphic writing bands refer to “perpetual glory increasing prosperity and perfect good fortune”.


A detail of the Ilkhanid candlestick in brass inlaid with gold and silver.

Sotheby’s believes it was likely made in Mosul around 1275 in the decades following the fall of the first center of inlaid ironwork in the Near East to the hands of the Mongol Ilkhanid dynasty in 1262.

The record for all Islamic art stands at £ 6.6million, offered at Sotheby’s in 2011 for a page from one of the most famous Persian manuscripts of the 16th century. Shahnameh created for the Safavid ruler Shah Tamasp. In 2010, £ 5.5million was donated for a 17th century Kirman vase rug at Christie’s, while in 2018 a newly discovered Isnik charger from the reign of Mehmet II “the Conqueror” cost 4.55 million pounds sterling.

In April 2008, an iron and copper key with an inscription dated AH575 (1179-80 AD), believed to be from the ka’ba, sold for £ 8.2million at Sotherby’s. However, the sale was later revoked after doubts were raised about its authenticity.


About Oscar L. Smith

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