Erotic illustration a highlight of sale

A very rare, early illustration to a mid-13th century erotic poem is one of the highlights of an upcoming Antiquities, Islamic & Indian Art Sale at Roseberys Fine Art Auctioneers in London.

The piece, which is one of over 80 lots in the auction house’s sale, was recently the recipient of an Asian Art in London award for 2022.

The 16th-century illustration in ink and pigments heightened with gold is one of the earliest for an erotic poem composed in the 1260s in Shiraz, Iran. It comes with an estimate of £3,000-£5,000 in the sale taking place on October 28.

This single folio was part of a manuscript of the collected works (Kulliyāt) of the renowned 13th-century Persian poet and mystic, Saʿdī of Shiraz.

Illustrations after Saʿdī ‘s verses made before the 17th century are extremely rare.

The auction house said that while scholarship on eroticism in Islam and representations of sexuality in Islamic art is arguably an underexplored field, their experts feel this piece serves as a fine representation of a seldom-discussed topic in Persian/Islamic society.