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5th May 2020

Akbarnama - Elephants returning from the


A party of hunters returning to camp

Imperial Mughal, 1603-04

Opaque watercolour on paper with gold, laid down within the illuminated borders of a page from a manuscript of the Farhang-i Jahangiri, on the reverse thirty-five lines of the Persian text of that work in black and red nasta’liq

Miniature: 22.9 by 12.7 cm.; 9 by 5 in.

Folio: 34 by 23 cm.; 13 3/8 by 9 in.                       



Georges-Joseph Demotte (1877-1923), Paris

Christie’s, Islamic Art and Indian Miniatures, London, 25 April 1995, lot 8a

Pierre Jourdan-Barry Collection, Paris, 1995-2011



Oliver Forge and Brendan Lynch Ltd., New York, 2011

J.P. Losty, Indian Miniature Paintings from the Lloyd Collection, London, 2011, no. 18



The Akbarnama, a history of the reign of Akbar, was commissioned by the Emperor and written by his prime minister and friend Abu’l-Fazl. 



Three major imperial manuscripts, all incomplete, are known, comprising one in the Victoria and Albert Museum, circa 1590 (Stronge, pp.36-85); a second, circa 1595-1600, perhaps commissioned by the Emperor’s mother Hamida Banu Begum, of which various pages are now scattered in different international collections, (Leach, 2004); and a third, dated to 1603-4, copied by the famous calligrapher, Maulana Muhammmad Husain Kashmiri, known as Zarin Qalam (‘Golden-pen,’ see no. 1 of this catalogue).  The majority of the third version’s leaves are split between the British Library (volume 1: the history of the Mughals up to the childhood of Akbar, with 39 miniatures, for which see Titley, no. 11) and the Chester Beatty Library (volumes 2 & 3: recording events from Akbar’s reign itself, with 61 miniatures, for which see Leach 1995, pp. 232-300). 


Seven miniatures were earlier removed by Demotte from the British Library volume, but all are now accounted for (Leach 1995, p. 241, note 15), while 51 miniatures are missing from the Chester Beatty volumes (ibid., note 16, with attempted identifications).  Two inscriptions on different paintings of this third version date the pages to the forty-seventh regnal year of Akbar (1603-04).  This has been read as the forty-second year by John Seyller (1987), but this opinion has been refuted by Robert Skelton followed by Leach (1995, p. 240 and note 20).  Whereas the Chester Beatty date is slightly ambiguous and could be read as forty-two, there is no room for ambiguity with the British Library volume which can only be read as forty-seven.


This painting is ostensibly the left hand side of a double page composition.  The hunters with their long forked spears look exhausted as they return to camp.  The mahouts on top of the elephants are preparing to hobble them again outside the camp as assistants throw up ropes to them.  As well as being tied round their legs, the ropes are tied all round the elephants’ body rather like a package.  Other men bring home the hunting cheetahs, one being carried in a litter, the other being led on a lead.  Two tame blackbucks who acted as decoys are being led back to camp, while some men carry the dead does round their shoulders. 


This is an exceptionally vivid page allowing a glimpse into the practicalities of shikar in the world of the imperial Mughals.  It is also very noticeable how all the figures interact with one another in a way that is typical of the new younger generation of artists in the early years of the seventeenth century: Balchand, Govardhan, Daulat and so on.  With their facial expressions and gestures being so vivid, it is obvious that they are all focussed on something that is happening to the left of the present page, as despite its new positioning as a left hand page in the Farhan-i Jahangiri, it is in fact a right hand page.


The Victoria and Albert Museum’s Akbarnama covers the period from 1560 to 1577, while the Chester Beatty volume of the 1603-04 manuscript runs from 1556 to 1579.  The earlier manuscript contains four specific hunt scenes where cheetahs are portrayed, of which only one, in the regnal year five or 1560-1 (Stronge, pl. 39), is also portrayed in the Beatty volume (Leach 1995, p. 257).  It would seem that here as in several other instances the Beatty manuscript illustrated episodes that are different to the earlier manuscript.   The last part of the third volume has completely disappeared, but all the known missing pages can be accommodated within the time span covered by the Beatty volume. 



The painting has been laid on to a leaf of the Persian lexicon known as the Farhang-i Jahangiri by Mir Jamal al-Din Husain Inju, a manuscript prepared for Jahangir and dated 1608, with its distinctive borders decorated all in gold with figures, angels, animals, grotesques  and so on, strategically placed among naturalistic sprays of leaves and flowers.  The only known major group of untouched leaves from this manuscript is in Dublin (see Leach, pp. 321-24).  The inscriptions on the illuminated page here relate to the lexicon, not the subject matter of the painting.  The inscription in the lower-left hand corner is a catch-word written on the illumination of the lexicon, revealed by some damage in this corner of the miniature.  A number of other miniatures from this manuscript were re-mounted in this way by the Paris dealer, Georges-Joseph Demotte, who published eleven miniatures in these borders in his 1930 catalogue (see Blochet).




Stronge, S., Painting for the Mughal Emperor: the Art of the Book 1560-1660, London, 2002

Leach, L.Y., “Pages from an Akbarnama” in Crill, R., Stronge, S. and Topsfield, A., ed.,  Arts of Mughal India: Studies in Honour of Robert Skelton, London, 2004, pp. 42-55

Titley, N.M., Miniatures from Persian Manuscripts: a Catalogue and Subject Index of Paintings from Persia, India and Turkey in the British Library and British Museum, London, 1977

Leach, L.Y., Mughal and other Indian Paintings in the Chester Beatty Library, London, 1995

Seyller, J., ‘Scribal notes on Mughal Manuscript Illustrations’, in Artibus Asiae, vol. 48, Zürich, 1987, pp. 247-77

Blochet, E., Catalogue of an exhibition of Persian paintings from the XIIth to the XVIIIth century: formerly from the collections of the shahs of Persia and of the great moguls: held at the galleries of Demotte Inc., New York City, New York, 1930


Portrait Head of Menander
Roman, 2nd Century A.D.

16.9 cm.; 6 1/3 in.



Henning Throne-Holst (1895-1980)


Menander (342-290 B.C.) was one of the most popular Greek playwrights, particularly in New Comedy. This beautiful head, from a relief, would have been just under life-size and Menander would probably have been seated in profile, a theatre mask before him. Examples of such reliefs can be seen in the Princeton University Art Museum, and the Vatican Museum. The deeply drilled hair and pupils and incised irises date the fragment to the late second century A.D.

This head was in the collection of Henning Throne-Holst (1895-1980), a Swedish industrialist and art collector and was sold by Oliver Forge and Brendan Lynch to the British Museum (acc. 2000,0907.01) in 2000.

13th May 2020

1 Angels descend from Heaven.jpg



Angels descend from the heavens to visit a princess

Deccan, circa 1700

Opaque watercolour on paper heightened with gold and silver, a catchword at lower left, inscribed on the recto with two lines and on the verso with eleven lines in Deccani Urdu written in naskhi script

Miniature: 22.3 by 14.4 cm.; 8 ¾ by 5 5/8 in.

Page: 39.5 by 23.5 cm.; 15 ½ by 9 ¼ in.



Anonymous private collection, Europe

Christie's, London, 11 October 1979, lot 187

Lloyd Collection, London, 1979-2011



Oliver Forge and Brendan Lynch Ltd., New York, 2011: Losty, J.P., Indian Paintings from the Lloyd Collection, London, 2011, no. 12

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2015



Zebrowski, M., Deccani Painting, London, 1983, p.224, fig. 195

Haidar, N. and Sardar, M., Sultans of Deccan India, 1500–1700: Opulence and Fantasy, New York, 2015, no. 173


A princess lies sleeping on a pearl-fringed silver bed within her chamber, while her lady-in-waiting sleeps on the terrace outside with candles burning and an impressive silver water-ewer. From an evocative blue star-studded moonlit sky, nine angels somersault down to visit her in a cascade of pearls, gold and silk brocade. The pavilion is of white marble inlaid with floral decoration, a richly worked curtain gathered up in swags hangs over the front of the chamber, and on the roof is a marble kiosk decorated with vessels in niches. Princess and maid are enveloped in white saris trimmed with silver, the jagged curves of which echo the swags in the curtain hanging above.


The unique design and palette of this evocative Deccan night-scene painting dramatically contrast the cascade of colour heralding the descent of the angels, with the monochrome world of the cool, silent, moonlight-suffused palace. This is probably the finest page from what is unquestionably the finest Deccani manuscript of the period, outstanding for its calligraphy, its superb technical accomplishment and its poetical fantasy.



The folio is from a romance written in Deccani Urdu, one of seven sold at Christie’s in 1979, and first identified by Dan Ehnbom (1985) as the Gulshan-i ‘Ishq (‘the Rose-garden of Love’) by the Bijapuri court poet Nusrati. It is written in an elegant naskhi, on fine polished paper, in two columns without any dividing rules or margins, the number of lines varying between five and twelve. When an illustration is included on the page, the text it is divided by a gold floral motif between gold rules, the whole surrounded by a gold margin between double gold rules, with a similar outer border.


The unpublished colophon (Christie’s, 1979) notes that the work was written by an unnamed author who ‘lived during the reign of ‘Ali ‘Adil Shahi, under whom I grew prosperous’. This would be ‘Ali ‘Adil Shah II of Bijapur (b. 1637), who ruled 1656-72 A.D., but there is no indication of a royal patron for the manuscript. After that monarch’s death, his four year old heir Sikandar was not in a position to be a patron, as his reign was consumed by a civil war ending with the capture of Bijapur by the Mughals in 1686. Artists migrated from the capital to provincial centres and also to Golconda during this period. Discussing this painting in 1983, Zebrowski (p. 222) observes that “the women’s large languorous eyes and dusky complexions derive from [circa 1660] portraits of Sultan Ali Adil Shah II”. He argues that the miniatures are painted in a transitional style, predominantly Bijapuri but with certain Golconda and emerging Hyderabad features, suggesting circa 1700 as a date for their production.


While the seven folios sold at Christie’s generally display layered compositions that are typical of earlier Bijapuri and Golconda work, their schematic layered landscapes prefigure much eighteenth century work. The two further folios, formerly in the Ehrenfeld Collection (Ehnbom, pp.90-1, nos.37-38), which have emerged since confirm this, along with a third, Raja Bikram and the angels, in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, bringing the total known to ten. One of the two Ehrenfeld folios, The lovesick Prince Manohara falls unconscious into his father’s lap, (Ehnbom no. 38) for instance, similar in subject to one of the Christie’s paintings, has an architectural background that leads on seamlessly to that typical of mid-eighteenth century Hyderabad such as the ragamala in the Richard Johnson collection (Falk & Archer, no. 426). The style of brilliant colouring against white went on to have a lasting influence on later manuscripts from Hyderabad.



Ehnbom, D., Indian Miniatures: the Ehrenfeld Collection, New York, 1985

Zebrowski, M., Deccani Painting, London, 1983

Falk, T. and Archer, M., Indian Miniatures in the India Office Library, London, 1981 


(side a)


(side b)

The Cockerell Cup, attributed to the Dokimasia Painter
Attic, circa 480 B.C
10 x 30.2 cm.

Spink and Son, January 1966
Sir Christopher Cockerell (1910-99)


The Cockerell Cup is attributed to the Dokimasia Painter and dates to around 480 B.C. Decorated on one side with Dionysos, the god of wine, attended by two satyrs. One pours him wine from a large krater, the other plays the double pipes. On the other side an altogether more rowdy scene with a maenad being pursued by two satyrs. This cup was acquired from the London firm of art dealers, Spink & Son, in 1966 by Sir Christopher Cockerell (1910-99), an engineer, best known for his invention of the hovercraft. His descendants asked us to sell it on their behalf and since his father was Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum it was particularly appropriate that its final resting place should be there.

An elegant and beautifully painted cup such as this example would have been used at parties (symposium) attended exclusively by the Athenian male upper classes. Many similar vessels would have been decorated with wine-related scenes such as the two scenes depicted on this cup.


19th May 2020

Portrait of Ikhlas Khan%2c Golconda%2c c


An equestrian portrait perhaps depicting Ikhlas Khan

Golconda, circa 1680

Opaque watercolour with gold on paper; cracked, some flaking and losses, pasted down on card

22.5 by 15.8 cm.


Acquired in Gwalior by a noble English family in 1931

Private collection, England, by descent


Both subject and horse are distinctively Deccani, the costume of the former relating to other seventeenth royal portraits. The physiognomy of the horse has been captured with great skill –rearing in the haste and excitement of a procession proceeded and followed by flag, fan and banner-waving male attendants - and the splendour of his gold trappings would appear to reinforce a royal identity of the subject. A very closely related horse appears in another equestrian portrait formerly in the Welch collection, Saint Shah Raju on horseback, by Rasul Khan, Golconda, circa 1675, see Zebrowski, M., Deccani Painting, London, 1983, pp.196-7, no.161; also Sotheby’s, The Stuart Cary Welch Collection: Part I: Arts of the Islamic World, London, 6 April 2011, lot 127. The flaring nostrils, braided mane, tasseled trappings and powerful presence of the stallion are all stylistically close.

In spite of the royal trappings – the parasol, rich clothing, banners, attendants - the subject bears some resemblance to Ikhlas Khan of Bijapur, and several scholars now conclude that this is in all probability who the portrait depicts. He is known to us from several paintings, in particular Sultan Muhammad Adil Shah and Ikhlas Khan riding an elephant, in the Hodgkin Collection, see Topsfield, A., Visions of Mughal India, Oxford, 2011, pp.94-5, no.36. He rose to high office under Ibrahim Adil Shah and his depiction with the paraphernalia of a ruler is perhaps a reflection of his real power at court. The faces of the boy attendants show Rajput traits, as influences from north Indian spread into the Deccan via Mughal military expeditions.

Africans were known at the various Deccan courts and several reached high positions as ministers. For two other portraits of Ikhlas Khan, see Zebrowksi, M., Deccani Painting, London, 1983, nos. 96 and 97. Also see Alderman, J.R., “Paintings of Africans in the Deccan” in Robbins, K.X. & McLeod, J., African Elites in India, Ahmedabad, 2006.

9 (1).jpg

Possibly of Artemis
Greek, circa mid-fifth century B.C.

h. 27 cm.



Paul Hartwig (1859-1919), the German archaeologist 

Max Klinger (1857-1920), the German symbolist painter and sculptor

Johannes Hartmann (1869-1952), the German sculptor

Ernst Langlotz (1895-1978)

Private collection, Switzerland, 1978-2001

The Stanford Place Collection, UK, 2001-06


In 2001 we were invited to a house at the foot of the Alps south of Zurich to see what was to become one of the most important works of art we would go on to sell. A classical Greek marble female head, possibly from a statue of the goddess Artemis, it came from the collection of the German scholar and archaeologist Ernst Langlotz (1895-1978). Before him other distinguished owners included Max Klinger (1857-1920) the German symbolist painter and sculptor who had designed the elaborate onyx mount on which it now stood.

Dating to the mid fifth century BC, when the classical style was at it’s artistic zenith, the head has an idealized timeless serenity and beauty made even more striking by its fragmentary condition.  Originally forming part of a group, her wavy centrally-parted hair is worn up at the back. The eyes, now hollow, would have been inlaid with coloured stone. First published in 1938 by Karl Anton Neugebauer, it was exhibited at the Kunsthalle in Basel in 1960

26th May 2020

Gandhara Bust dt2.jpg

A Gandhara grey schist bust of the Bodhisattva Padmapani

Northern Pakistan, second-third century A.D.

h 52.5 cm.


Private collection, Switzerland

Beurdeley et CIE, Paris, 1976

Private collection, Geneva, 1970s

Private collection, south of France, 1980s-1997

Sotheby’s, London, 8 May 1997, lot 12

Stanford Place Collection, Oxfordshire, 1997-2006


Beurdeley, J.M., Images Divines, exhibition catalogue, Beurdeley et CIE, Paris, 1976, no.1



This exceptionally beautiful fragmentary bust was sold by us on behalf of a private collector in Oxfordshire. It first appeared on the art market in 1976 with Beurdeley et CIE, Paris, when it was published, after which it entered two European collections before appearing at Sotheby’s in 1997.

The bust would have come from a free-standing figure, seated in rajlalitasana or ‘royal ease’ on a woven cane throne, his raised right leg leaving one of his sandals on a footstool. His right hand would have been raised to his face, and his left would have held a lotus flower, identifying him as Padmapani. In such images, which are thought to have formed a cult, the face of the bodhisattva is always shown at a three-quarters angle, its expression downcast in deep meditation.


The iconography of this type of image emerged during the Kushan period, both in Gandharan art and that of Mathura. See H. Ingholt, Gandharan Art in Pakistan, New York, 1957, no. 324 and M. Lerner, The Flame and the Lotus: Indian and Southeast Asian Art from the Kronos Collections, Washington, 1989, pp.30-35.



Lee, J., ‘The Origins and Development of the Pensive Bodhisattva Images of Asia’ in Artibus Asiae, vol. 53, no. 3-4, 1993, pp. 311-57.


A Complete figure of this type is in the Art Institute of Chicago:


For variations of the type:

Rokeby relief.jpg

A Hellenistic marble fragment from a grave monument 
Second century B.C.

66.6 by 35.5 by 11.3 cm.


John B. S. Morritt (1772-1843), Rokeby Hall, acquired between 1794-96
Sotheby's, London, 1st July 1969, lot 261
Private collection, UK


Michaelis, A., Ancient Marbles in Great Britain, Cambridge, 1882, p. 646, no. 5

Pfuhl, E. and Möbius, H., Die ostgriechischen Grabreliefs, Mainz, 1977-79, p. 91, pl. 35, no. 159.


This statue is carved in high relief with a cloaked man and a young attendant who leans against a column holding a small casket.

This fragment was acquired by John B. S. Morritt (1772-1843) of Rokeby Hall, Yorkshire, a leading member of the Dilettanti Society. From 1794-96 he travelled extensively in Greece and Asia Minor where he acquired a number of ancient marble sculpture which he brought back to his famous collection at Rokeby Hall. This relief was initially sold at auction by the Morritt family in 1969 and was then subsequently acquired from us by the Princeton University Art Museum (acc. 2007-65). Two other grave stelae from the same collection are now in the Getty Villa, Malibu (acc. nos. 71.AA. 268 & 71.AA. 281)

2nd June 2020

5. Bikaner tortoise.jpg

Tortoise avatar of Vishnu

Bikaner, circa 1690

Opaque pigments and gold on paper

25.8 by 20.2 cm., 10 1/8 by 8 in.



Inscribed on reverse in nagari with a dated inspection note:

am. 2 sam. 1751 kati

‘number 2 [avatar] samvat 1751 (1694 A.D.) [month] Karrtika’

and with the partially erased stamp of the private collection of the Maharaja of Bikaner



Collection of the Maharajas of Bikaner

Natesan Gallery, London, 1996

Heil Collection, Berlin, 1996-2016


The painting tells a somewhat unusual version of the second or Kurma (tortoise) avatar of Vishnu. The gods had appealed to Vishnu to help them recover the nectar of immortality that had been lost in the primordial ocean. Vishnu told them to churn the

ocean using Mount Mandara as the churning stick and the immortal snake Vasuki as the churning rope. The gods took one end, the asuras (demons) the other, and they pulled this way and that churning the water, but the mountain threatened to sink to the bottom of the ocean. Vishnu was incarnated as a giant tortoise on which the bottom of the mountain rested so that the churning could continue. The nectar duly appeared along with thirteen other highly desirable objects, which the gods and asuras quarrelled over.


Here the artist has an extravagantly crowned Vishnu emerging from the mouth of the giant six-footed tortoise, as he is often depicted, surrounded by the primordial ocean viewed from on high. He has however abandoned the usual iconography of the gods and asuras pulling on the great snake Vasuki coiled round the mountain, where the tortoise tends to get lost at the bottom of the painting. Instead, in this painting of great imaginative power, Vasuki’s body is coiled on the tortoise’s back and his many heads hold aloft the earth above the primordial waters. The churning had threated to destroy the earth and the artist is expressively showing the earth’s salvation by means of Vishnu’s avatar.

Marcus Aurelius head.jpg

A Marble Head of Marcus Aurelius
Roman, circa 161-80 A.D.

h. 45 cm.

Collection of the Earl of Pembroke, Wilton House
Private collection, London
Christies, London, 2001

Lovatt-Smith, L., London Living, London, 1997



 This fine quality, powerful, over-life size image of Marcus Aurelius (121-180 A.D.) depicts the emperor facing forward, with thick curly hair, moustache and flowing beard. His eyes, possibly intentionally damaged in antiquity, are heavily lidded with drilled irises. Bought directly from from the 17th Earl of Pembroke in the 1970s; most of the sculptures at Wilton House were acquired by the 8th Earl (1654-1732) and the collection was not only the largest in England but also the oldest. Many pieces were from the Arundel, Giustiniani and, as maybe the case with this head, the Mazarin collections. The head was acquired at auction in London in 2001 and sold by Oliver Forge and Brendan Lynch to the Mougins Museum of Classical Art in 2009   

Marcus Aurelius, know as the last of the Five Good Emperors was also a celebrated philosopher and is shown here in late middle age with a contemplative air as befitting his temperament and intellect. His philosophical writings known as Meditations were intended for his own guidance and self-improvement. From 161 A.D. he ruled over a largely stable and peaceful Empire.

11th June 2020

31. Maharaja Raghubir Singh of Jind (2).

Maharaja Raghubir Singh of Jind (r.1864-87) in procession
By Hardas Singh
Jind, Punjab, 1864

Opaque pigments and gold on paper, within an inner blue border and an outer ivory border decorated with gold arabesques and blue cartouches
35.4 by 32.4 cm., 13 7/8 by 12 ¾ in. painting;
48 by 45.5 cm., 18 7/8 by 17 7/8 in. folio


With two cartouches of inscription in Gurmukhi and Persian, including the name, titles and date, interrupting the upper and lower borders: tasvir-i Raja-yi rajegan maharaja Raghubir Singh sahib bahadur vali-yi riyasat-i Jind sana 1864 ‘isavi jolus-i avval
“Painting of the Raja of Rajas Maharaja Raghubir Singh Sahib Bahadur, governor of the state of Jind, year 1864 of the ‘Isawi (Christian) calendar, first regnal year” and below similarly: Hardas Singh musavvar-i tasvirraqm mulazim [sic]-i riyasat-i Jind sanah 1864
“Picture by Harda’s’ Singh the painter of portraits and drawings?, employee of Jind State. 1864”

Acquired in Gwalior 1931
Private collection, England, 1931-2015


Maharaja Raghubir Singh of Jind (b. 1834, reg. 1864-87) rides a richly caparisoned elephant as its mahout with a goad in his hand, while an attendant seated behind him holds the requisite chowrie. Soldiers with appropriate emblems and standards march in front with a more miscellaneous group of soldiers and attendants behind. Further back is a cavalry troop and other men on elephants. The procession takes place in a green landscape and seen in the distance are other horsemen and elephants less formally disposed.

Raghubir Singh like his father Swarup Singh before him was greatly honoured by the British for his assistance and they were awarded various titles including the hereditary one of Raja-i Rajgan, meaning the same as the older form of Maharajadhiraja, ‘king among kings’. This title was apparently given in 1881.

Painting in the Punjab up to the middle of the nineteenth century had been largely the domain of artists from the Punjab Hill states, lured by the prospect of patronage to the great cities of Lahore and Amritsar (see Archer). Simple portraits or decorative pictures for their Sikh patrons changed possibly under the influence of British taste after the annexation of the Punjab in 1849 into more genre-orientated pictures, slices of real life apparently painted by Sikh artists, as well as portraits in more up-to-date taste of what remained of the Sikh nobility. These are naturalistic and highly decorative as in the painting of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in the Bazaar in the Hodgkin Collection (Topsfield, no. 77) or Dost Muhammad being entertained in Lahore in the Kapany Collection (Stronge, fig. 189). A painting in the same style signed by the artist Bishan Singh of the court of Ranjit Singh is dated 1864 (Christie’s London, 7 October 2008, lot 245), contemporary with our painting. Hardas Singh is not an artist whose name seems to be known. Srivastava has traced the various families of artists who worked in the Punjab in the nineteenth century (pp. 41-59) known Sikh artists as Kehar Singh, Kishan Singh (Stronge 1999, fig. 203and Kapur Singh (ibid., fig. 199). They were based in Amritsar and were equally adept at wall paintings as well as paintings on paper and even in oils. These Amritsar families of artists were called upon by the local nobility to decorate their palaces, particularly those in Patiala. Our painting seems based on the famous painting of Maharaja Narendra Singh of Patiala (r. 1845-62) on elephant back in procession (Stronge 1999, pp.176-7, no. 200), in a late version of a Pahari style, but our artist has been much influenced by European painting in the way he renders recession and landscape.


The painting was acquired in Gwalior in 1931 by an aristocratic British family, and descended in the family until sold, on their behalf, by Oliver Forge and Brendan Lynch in 2015.

Archer, W.G., Painting of the Sikhs, London, 1966
Srivastava, R.P., Punjab Painting: Study in Art and Culture, New Delhi, 1983
Stronge, S., ed., The Arts of the Sikh Kingdoms, London, 1999
Topsfield, A., Visions of Mughal India: the Collection of Howard Hodgkin, Oxford, 2012

Magical figure.jpg

An Egyptian basalt kneeling “Magical” statue,
Ptolemaic Period, circa 200 B.C.,

h. 19cm.




This statue, representing a priest, was placed in a temple, or public building. Engraved over the entire surface (apart from the face, hands and feet) with standard magical texts and representatives of deities the figure would have held a cippus or stele (now missing) which would also be covered with similar text. By pouring water over the statue it would become infused with healing powers and if drunk or used as a potion would heal the sick, particularly those bitten by the many snakes and scorpions that frequented ancient Egypt.


It was in a private collection in Paris for nearly a century before being sold at auction in 1995. Oliver Forge and Brendan Lynch sold it, on behalf of a private collector, to the Museu da Farmacia, Lisbon in 2000.

19th June 2020

Aron Persian Tray1.jpg
Aron Persian Tray, detail.jpg

A silver- and gold-inlaid brass Tray

North-West Persia, circa 1300-1320 A.D.

With six roundels depicting seated figures alternating with six quatrefoil medallions, the former depicting a harpist, flautist, drinker, tambourine player, followed by another flautist and drinker, on a dense fretwork ground of interlocking T motifs interrupted by gold circles; the latter each containing four pairs of adorsed birds in flight around a rosette, divided by interlacing strapwork; all surrounding a large stylized rosette with radiating petals filled with geometric and foliate motifs; on the rim six gold-inlaid inscriptions in naskh

d. 53.2 cm., h. 3 cm.


Glory to our lord, the possessing, the learned, the just, the fortified by God, the triumphant, the victorious, the holy warrior, the defender, the protector of frontiers, the conqueror, support of Islam and the Islamic community, crown of kings and sultants, reviver of justice in the worlds, giving victory to the truth with proofs, righter of the oppressed against oppressors, guardian of countries, eradicator of wrong and opposition, fortified by God, as long as mankind is rotten. May [God] make his victories glorious, and multiply his power and the nobility of his rank. May his good fortune never cease to be obvious and his starts to be brilliant as long as he shines and …Hoping for reconciliation [with God]


Acquired in London in the late 1970s

Aron Collection, London, 1970s-2010


Allan, J., Metalwork of the Islamic World: The Aron Collection, London, 1986, p.132, no.35

Cars, L. de, ed., Louvre Abu Dhabi: Birth of a Museum, Paris, 2013, pp. 92-95, no. 3



Dr. Allan comments of this tray in his 1986 catalogue of the Aron Collection:

“It is frustrating that this tray is not dedicated to a specific ruler, for it is one of the finest surviving examples of its type and worthy of any royal court. Both the entitulature and the decoration, however, enable us to date and attribute it with reasonable accuracy.”
In the catalogue entry, he proceeds to do so in considerable detail, see Metalwork of the Islamic World: The Aron Collection, p.132.

Valencia, Oct.2013 020.jpg

A marble bust of Antinous-Osiris of heroic scale
Roman, 130-138 A.D.

Wearing a calantica, (the Egyptian headdress), originally decorated with a uraeus (the symbol of Royal power), his eyes incised
h. 67cm

By repute Hadrian’s Villa, Tivoli (according to Marconi and Roullet), excavated by Gavin Hamilton
Thomas Hope (1769-1831) and by descent to his great-grandson, Lord Henry Pelham Clinton Hope, 8th Duke of Newcastle (1866-1941). Sold Christies, The Hope Heirlooms, 23rd-24th July 1917, lot 228, pl. 6 (bought by Cory)
Charles Boot (1874-1945)

Brayley, E.W. and Britton, J. A topographical history of Surrey, vol. 5, 1841, p. 86
Clairmont, C., Die Bildnisse des Antinous, 1966, p. 16, n. 3, no. 7
Fosbrooke, T.D., Outlines of Statues in the possession of Mr Hope (never published) for which illustrations were furnished by T.D. Fosbrooke, 1813, pol. 16
Hope, T., Household Furniture and Interior Decorations, executed from designs by Thomas Hope, 1807, pl. 1

                                                                                      Hope Marbles, pl. 11
Fosbrooke, T.D., Encyclopaedia of Antiquities and Elements of Archaeology, Classical and Medieval, 1825, 140 n. 2
Marconi, P., Monumenti Antichi 29, 1923, 192, no. 79
Michaelis, A., Ancient Marbles in Great Britain, 1882, p. 288, no. 28
Raeder, J., Die statuarische Austattung der Villa Hadrian bei Tivoli, Frankfurt, 1983, 145, Kat 111.7
Roullet, A., The Egyptian and Egyptianising Monuments of Rome, EPRO, 1972, 86, no. 97
Waywell, G.B., The Lever and Hope Sculptures, 1986, p. 94, no. 52, fig. 24
Westmacott, C.M., British Galleries of Paintings and Sculptures, London, 1824, 222



Little is known about Antinous prior to his death in 130 A.D. He was born in Bithynia, north-west Turkey around roughly 110 A.D. and after meeting Hadrian, he quickly became his favourite and travelled with him extensively throughout the Empire. In 130 A.D. they arrived in Egypt and it was here that Antinous famously and mysteriously drowned in the Nile. Hadrian was grief stricken and founded the city Antinoopolis in his memory, as well as deifying him. This act of deification ensured that the image of Antinous survived to the point that he is the third most represented figure in existing Roman portraiture after Emperors Augustus and Hadrian, with his image displayed throughout the empire as Dionysos, Apollo, 'the divine ephebe' or Osiris - of which this bust is one of the finest examples.


Reputably excavated at Hadrian's Villa, Tivoli by Gavin Hamilton, this bust was sold into the Hope collection at Deepdene. It was passed down through the family before being sold in their sale at Christies in 1917. It was then unaccounted for until being discovered by us at a house in Derbyshire having become part of the fabric of the house and its collection.



25th June 2020

Nayaka ivory panels.jpg


Two panels from a Nayaka ivory casket

South India, probably Madurai, late seventeenth/early eighteenth century

Pierced and set against a gold ground, each panel depicting a mithuna, standing below a cusped arch against a ground of pierced fronds, flowering plants in relief below, both male and female figures in princely dress, the volume of their curvaceous bodies emphasised by tight diaphanous robes and beaded jewellery, each couple embracing closely, that on the right with a standing female attendant, both plaques with borders on three sides composed of continuous flower heads, the panels joined vertically by a slender pilaster with tiered lotus capital, pierced with metal rivets around the borders

14.4 by 20 cm., mounted


English private collection, Bath, 1970s

J.G. McMullen, Obelisk Gallery, 15 Crawford Street, London W.1, 1978

Bashir Mohammed, London, 1978-c.79

Spink and Son, London, c. 1979-80

Private collection, London, c. 1980-2013



The arts flourished under King Tirumala Nayak (r.1623-59) of Madurai and these panels are a rare survivor, along with two others from the same casket in two American museums. The architecture of the Nayakas has long been admired, along with bronze images of Hindu gods and saints, but exceedingly few examples of the decorative arts have survived.


The casket is reputed to have come from a collection in Bath, England, where it was discovered in the 1970s and probably dispersed by Spink and Son, London, as of about 1980. Others panels from this casket are in the Virginia Art Museum, Richmond and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, see images attached.


The Virginia panels are the most elaborate and consist of four couples standing in cusped niches against a gold ground, divided by two slender pilasters of the type seen in this example. The presence of a keyhole suggests this was the front of the casket. The Boston example depicts three couples in rather compressed cusped arches suggesting that this panel may have formed one of the sides of the box. These panels would appear to have been from the back of the casket.


Joseph Dye, (The Arts of India: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, London, 2001, p.441) suggests an origin in the Cauvery area, perhaps Srirangam or Madurai, and compares the architectural motifs of the box with those found at King Tirumala Nayak’s palace in Madurai, which dates from 1646.

Cameo with masks.jpeg



Sardonyx Cameo depicting theatrical masks

Roman, first century A.D.

2.9 cm.



Bram Hertz (1794-1865)

Joseph Mayer (1803-1886)

Constantine Alexander Ionides (1833-1900)


This delightful Roman sardonyx cameo was part of a group of ancient cameos and gems from the Ionides Collection sold by Oliver Forge and Brendan Lynch in 2001. Carved with two pairs of theatrical masks with a Greek inscription reading “Eurpides” – the name of the Athenian playwright – it dates to the first century A.D. Two of the masks represents a pair of snub-nosed, bald-headed satyrs; the other two are bearded male heads.

 First recorded in the collection of the London-based German merchant, Bram Hertz (1794-1865) it was sold at auction in 1851; then acquired by Joseph Mayer (1803-86), the antiquarian and collector. Towards the end of the nineteenth century it entered the cabinet of Constantine Alexander Ionides (1833-1900), the Turkish businessman and patron of the arts who’s collection of paintings included Old Masters, seventeenth century and contemporary British works as well as French nineteenth century. Over one thousand objects were bequeathed to the Victoria and Albert Museum after his death. However, this piece, along with over a hundred other cameos and gems remained in the family until the late 1960s.


The theatre in ancient Greece was made up of tragedy and comedy together with the ‘slapstick’. Actors usually wore masks: satyr for comedy performances; men for tragedy. Euripides (circa 480-406) was a writer of tragic drama and his plays continued to be performed throughout antiquity. 





Boardman, J., Engraved Gems. The Ionides Collection (London: 1968), pp. 42, 101-2, no. 71, ill.

Furtwaengler, A., Die antiken Gemmen: Gesichte der Steinschneidekunst in Klassischen. Leipzig: Geisecke & Devrient, 1900, vol. 1, pl. 50.54; vol. 2, p. 246, no. 54.

Koner, W., et al. Catalogue of the Collection of Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan, Roman, Indian, Peruvian and Mexican Antiquities formed by B. Hertz. London: 1851, p. 81.

Sotheby's, London. Sale cat., Catalogue of the Celebrated and Well-known Collection of...Antiquities formed by B. Hertz. February 7, 1859, pp. xx and 99, lot 1378.

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