Two rare 16th century Iznik bottles from the Ottoman Empire were the main attraction at Bonhams' Indian and Islamic auction, with one setting a new world record for a bottle of its kind.
The sale was held in London yesterday (April 23), showcasing arts and antiques from India and the Islamic world. One of the bottles, the larger of the pair, set the new world record for an Iznik bottle at £447,250 ($682,490), while the other followed at £301,250 ($459,698).
The town of Iznik in Turkey has long been a renowned centre for pottery, initially producing simple pieces before the Ottoman court was established in nearby Istanbul. The patronage of the Ottoman court saw the town's pottery transformed, using cobalt blue under a colourless glaze to produce meticulous designs that display traditional Ottoman arabesque styles combined with Chinese elements.
As well as being remarkable early examples from this period of change, the bottles' values were boosted by their fascinating provenance. The deputy governor of the Bank of England Leonard Daneham Cunliffe first purchased them in 1919 for £501 and 10 shillings - a huge sum of money at the time.
Cunliffe, co-founder of the merchant bank Cunliffe Brothers and a major investor in Harrods, housed the bottles at his eclectic neo-classical country manor, Trelissick House near Truro in Cornwall. Bonhams has announced that it will sell items of furniture from Trelissick House on July 23-24.