Eyeglasses with Mughal Indian gemstone lenses could fetch $ 6.85 million
There is a lot that is not known about two pairs of unusual gemstone glasses, such as who actually owned these unique glasses. However, what is known is sufficient to appraise each of these precious works of art and superb craftsmanship of 17th century Mughal India at a combined high estimate of £ 5million ($ 6.85million). ).
The pair of glasses will be sold in separate lots at Sotheby’s “Arts of the Islamic World & India” auction in London on October 27. Remaining in the same collection for almost half a century, they will be offered to the public for the first time. The estimate for each is 1.5-2.5 million pounds ($ 2 million – $ 3.4 million).
Mainly due to the extraordinary large gemstones that were used for the lenses of these glasses and the exceptional skill of the artisans who cut, polished and beveled the gemstones to make them very transparent, no comparable example exists.
Both shows were more than ornamental. They were designed to be worn like glasses because they are completely transparent. They are the result of extreme technicality and know-how.
The pair of glasses was originally designed in 17e Mughal India of the century, probably made for a prince of the time, according to specialists at Sotheby’s. However, the patron who commissioned the shows is unknown. What we know, according to Sotheby’s, is that “they stem from a rich period of artistic and architectural achievements during the reigns of the Great Mughal of Emperors Akbar (1556-1605), Jahangir (1605-1627), Shah Jahan (1627-1658) and Aurangzeb (1658-1707).
It is almost certain that the lenses of one of the glasses were made from a single Colombian emerald from the famous Muzo mines, originally estimated to weigh over 300 carats, according to Sotheby’s. It is almost certain that the glasses of the other pair were made with a flawless diamond that originally weighed over 200 carats from the legendary Golconda mines in India. Sotheby’s adds that diamonds and emeralds of such extraordinary size would have been reserved only for an emperor.
The glasses with round diamond lenses totaling approximately 25 carats are called “Halo of Light”. Sotheby’s says the “faceting around the edge shows extreme skill, arranged to maintain transparency in the lenses while releasing light from the edges.”
The glasses of the pair of teardrop-shaped emeralds weigh approximately 27 carats and are called the “Gate of Heaven”. “The bevel of the emeralds has been precisely angled to maintain the intensity of the stone’s color.”
Around 1890, the glasses were placed in new frames, decorated with rose-cut diamonds, says Sotheby’s.
While regular glasses work to improve eyesight, these glasses with their gemstone lenses were seen as a spiritual enlightenment aid, according to Sotheby’s. Diamonds are believed to illuminate and emeralds have miraculous powers to heal and ward off evil.
Sotheby’s lists some examples of precious stones that may have been used as spectacle lenses. Pliny the Elder Natural History tells the ancient emperor Nero observing gladiatorial combats through the surface of a precious green stone. Several centuries later, an inventory of the treasury of Charles V of France lists a case of beryl gemstones framed like glasses.
Closer to the origin of these examples, in India, after the death of Shah Jahan’s beloved wife – in whose honor the Taj Mahal was built – the emperor is said to have cried so many tears that he needed to cure his sick eyes with emerald stones.
Sotheby’s biannual Islamic World and Indian Arts Auction in London specializes in historical artifacts, paintings and manuscripts from multiple continents and over ten centuries.