Sotheby’s deputy director Alexandra Yasmina Roy told Anadolu Agency that Roxelana is “incredibly inspiring”.
Sotheby’s, one of the world’s largest dealers in fine and decorative art, jewelery and collectables, will hold an auction in London on October 27 titled “Arts of the Islamic World and India”.
The UK-based company’s auction will celebrate the achievements of artists and craftsmen in the Islamic world for over 1,000 years.
One of the highlights is an oil portrait of Hurrem Sultan, the famous wife of Suleiman the Magnificent, known in the West as Roxelana. The painting is from the end of the 16th-beginning of the 17th century.
“We are delighted to have this painting of Roxelana who was the wife of Suleiman the Magnificent. She started as a concubine in his harem and rose through the ranks to become one of the most powerful women at court, she is so incredibly inspiring,” Sotheby’s Deputy Director Alexandra Yasmina Roy told Anadolu Agency.
Hailing from what is now western Ukraine, Roxelana entered Suleyman’s harem and quickly became his favorite.
He broke convention by allowing her to bear not just one son, but four. He then broke convention again by marrying her.
She was influential not only as a wife, but was also central to helping him rule the empire. While Suleyman was campaigning, she wrote to him and kept him informed of developments in the capital.
She was also a leading patron of architecture and charitable foundations, especially in Jerusalem.
Roy said the painting was estimated between £100,000 and £250,000 ($137,000 to $343,000).
She joined Sotheby’s in 2011 and has since been in charge of researching and cataloging works of art in the Arts of the Islamic World series, which is held every two years in April and October.
Roy is of Egyptian and French descent and grew up in Oman and Yemen. She has traveled extensively across North Africa and the Middle East.
She also talked about a pair of items that had never been available on the market before.
These are two extraordinary pairs of 17th century Mughal glasses, one with emerald lenses and the other with diamond lenses.
They were originally made from gemstones that would have weighed over 300 and 200 carats respectively.
The origin can be traced to the mines of Muzo in Colombia.
“They were the most famous emerald mines of the 17th century,” Roy said.
The diamond lenses most likely came from the famous Golconda mines of southern India.
“It’s inconceivable today to do something like that,” Roy said. “To me, they are invaluable in a certain sense.”
Nonetheless, she said they were estimated to be between £1.5-2.5 million ($2-3.4 million) each.
Other highlights include a silver and gilt brass candlestick attributed to Mosul dating from around 1275; a richly decorated Koranic section from the 13th century; an important Polish Safavid carpet in silk and metal threads; the largest known Iznik pottery ‘grape’ dish, circa 1530 as well as scientific instruments including an astrolabe signed by Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Battuti and a 17th century Mughal engraved brass celestial globe.