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Salvago Collection Ottoman Textiles, Sotheby’s London 26 April 2017

Sotheby’s London sale of Arts of the Islamic World on Wednesday 26th April 2017 includes twenty lots (139-158) of Ottoman and East Mediterranean complex silks, velvets and embroideries from the outstanding collection of Argine Benaki Salvago, grande dame of Alexandrian society in the 1930s and considered ‘one of Europe’s most beautiful women, the toast of Paris in her youth’.

A rare and important Ottoman voided velvet and metal-thread (çatma) panel with cintamani design, Bursa or Istanbul, early 17th-century (est. £200,000-300,000)

The group of textiles is representative the richness and diversity of luxury courtly textile production at the height of the Ottoman empire. The decline of empire in the late 19th and early 20th centuries meant that luxury textiles became available on the open market, offering opportunities for discerning collectors, including leading Alexandrian Greek families such as the Benakis, the Choremia and the Salvagos. Period photographs inside the Salvago villa in Alexandria show these textiles as part of a grand décor, framed and hung like pictures. Today, outside of Istanbul, it is rare to find Ottoman courtly textiles still in private hands, and the present examples stand out for their rarity, variety, condition and provenance. Unseen for decades, they offers an opportunity for institutions and collectors to acquire major museum-quality textiles. Not part of the Salvago consignment, the sale also includes a medieval Iranian/Central Asian (Sogdian) robe and two related complex silk fragment with animals within pearl roundels.

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