Two rare Iznik bottles from the golden age of the Ottoman Empire sold at Bonhams Indian and Islamic sale today, April 23, for a total of £748,500 – with one making £447,250 a new world record for an Iznnik bottle and the second bottle selling for £301,250. The sale made a total of £3.6m.
The bottles were previously sold by the well-known antiques dealer Frank Dickinson from his gallery at 104 New Bond Street in January 1919 for what was then the huge sum of £501 10s. The buyer was Leonard Daneham Cunliffe, the Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, co-founder of the merchant bank Cunliffe Brothers, a Director of the Hudson Bay Company and a major investor in Harrods. Cunliffe, whose tastes were eclectic, but always with a great eye for quality, used his ever expanding collection of antiques to decorate his various homes, which included properties at 109 Eaton Square and a neo-classical country house, Trelissick House, near Truro.
Alice Bailey, Head of Bonhams Islamic Department, says: "To find one Iznik 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 Iznik ceramics is very strong, particularly amongst Turkish collectors, and these pieces certainly did not disappoint."
RARE BUDDHIST ANURADHAPURA PERIOD (377 BC-1017 AD) INDIAN CARVED STONE TEMPLE STEP DISCOVERED IN A DEVON GARDEN SELLS FOR £553,250
There was a battle between buyers in the room and on the telephone for this remarkable find which finally sold for £553,250 against a pre-sale estimate of £20,000 to £30,000. There were no fewer than eight telephone bidders and three in the saleroom.
The carved granite temple step (Sandakada pahana) similar to those found in the ancient city of Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. The beautiful 1,000 year old pre-Hindu stone step is one of only six examples known to date from this period, making this discovery the seventh. The temple step is a feature unique to Sinhalese architecture in Sri Lanka. The massively heavy – three-quarters of a ton stone measure eight ft by four foot and is six inches thick.
The Devon based owners, Mike and Bronwyn Hickmott, commented after the sale: "We are overwhelmed with the price achieved. It goes beyond all our expectations." Mrs Hickmott added: "I'd like to say a special thank you to Sam Tuke of Bonhams Exeter office. We had been turned away by other international auction houses as well as television antiques shows. Everyone pooh-poohed our belief that the stone was special. It was only Sam's determination to research the stone that has led to this happy result. We are thrilled."
MODERN INDIAN PAINTINGS SELL WELL
Works by three of India's greatest painters, Tyeb Mehta, Maqbool Husain and Sayed Haider Raza, all fresh to the market, made strong prices.
Lot 420, by Tyeb Mehta (India, 1925-2009) Untitled, oil on canvas, signed and dated 1978 was knocked down for £505,250.
Lot 413 by Maqbool Fida Husain (India, 1915-2011) Untitled, 1970, oil on canvas, sold for £205,250.
Lot 421, Syed Haider Raza (India, born 1922) Untitled, acrylic on canvas, signed and dated '87 sold for £157,250.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com