A Mughal-era manuscript filled with Indian miniatures discovered locked up in a cupboard inside a rural England castle is now up for sale at Sotheby's upcoming auction in London. Also on offer at the auction titled "Art of Imperial India" scheduled for October 8 is a group of albums containing historical black and photographs of India. "The contents of the sale is very eclectic. One very old manuscript with 140 miniatures in it was discovered in a cupboard in a castle owned by the Duke of Northumberland," Edward Gibbs, Chairman and Head of the Middle East and India departments at Sotheby's, London told PTI recently. "The manuscript is quite splendid and looking at the miniatures is a very intimate experience as it was locked up so it has been preserved in pristine condition in its original binding and not subject to natural light or insects. It's an exciting find for scholars and historians and those in auction business," Gibbs said. The illustrated book, which Gibbs says is "about the size of an iPad" is likely to originate from end of 17th century. "Interestingly the manuscript contains an earlier portrait of Shah Jahan in his old age on folio seven, and this appears to have been added at some point after the production of the work," auctioneers said. Towards the end of the sale is featured a group of 31 albums containing over 2,000 photographs of India, Ceylon, Burma and South East Asia dating from the 1850s to the early 20th century. Sourced from London-based collector Sven Gahlin, provenances of the album date to the family of Lord Curzon, the Viceroy of India among others. "Gahlin has been slowly putting together a collection of photos of India. He has been a true pioneer in the filed going to flea markets, jumble sales and other sales. The collection runs to thousands of photos of historical places, costume studies of the courts of the maharajahs etc," Gibbs said. The photos, according to auctioneers can be broadly categorised into three categories- architecture, topographic images and generic subjects. It includes among others "views and people in Bombay, Agra, Delhi, Amritsar, Darjeeling, Kashmir, the Himalayas, Calcutta, and Ceylon."
Among the group photographs is one of the Maharajah of Kashmir and his entourage, and one of another tribal leader. A set of photographs of the train for the Viceroy of India which was constructed in the workshops of East Indian Railway Company 1902-1904. The images include a exterior view of the train, and images of the interior including the viceroy's office, bedroom, bathroom, the dining saloon, kitchen, servant's apartment and guards compartment. It has been estimated to fetch Rs 151,454 - RS 201,939. A diamond rubies and emerald 'maharani necklace' from late 19th century Rajasthan also features in the Art of Imperial India sale. Auctioneers have estimated it to fetch between 2.5 crore to Rs 3 crore. Jewellery and works of art from the Mughal and the Rajput courts as well as the period of the Raj also feature in the sale, auctioneers said. The sale is part of the India Islamic Week, which began on October 3 and is spread across three major auctions – the Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art, Art of Imperial India and Arts of the Islamic World. Tyeb Mehta's 1982 "Blue Painting" the property of Japan's Glenbarra Art Museum is most expensive of the lot at the Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art scheduled on Ocober 7 with a reserve price of Rs 60,177,751 - Rs 80,237,001, auctioners say. Other works on offer are those by M F Husain, S H Raza, Rashid Rana, Subodh Gupta and Bharti Kher. "This a really a feast of Indian art. I think it is very exciting to see how there is a continuity of modern contemporary with classical historical because you see contemporary art does not appear out of thin air but is rooted in tradition," Gibbs said. Stating that there is "something for all tastes and pockets," Gibbs said the advantage of having all the sales in the week is to "cross market it to different potential buyers." "A large scale company school album was brought by an Indian collector in the first edition of the Art of the Imperial last year," Gibbs said.