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Talismanic Medallion’ of Mehmed the Conqueror fetches $1.9M at auction

Unveiling History: Sultan Mehmed II's Earliest Portrait Medallion Sells for £1.4 Million

Recently Unearthed Bronze Medallion of Mehmed the Conqueror Fetches £1.4 Million at Bonhams Auction

Bonhams Islamic and Indian Art Sale recently auctioned a bronze portrait medallion of Sultan Mehmed II also known as Mehmed the Conqueror, for an astounding £1.4 million ($1.88 million). This medallion predates his historic conquest of Constantinople. Moreover, this sale highlights the increasing value and interest in historical artifacts from this period.

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A Unique Artistic Perspective

Western artists likely crafted this Medallion of Sultan Mehmed II. It stands as the earliest known portrait of an Islamic ruler from such a perspective. The medallion captures Mehmed II in his youth—a period scarcely documented otherwise—holding immense historical significance. Oliver White, Bonham’s head of Islamic and Indian art, emphasized its importance. He noted that Mehmed II might have used it as a personal talisman. Symbolizing his imperial ambitions and succession to the lineage of Roman emperors.

Medallion for Mehmed II History 2701 Wiki
Medallion for Mehmed II History 2701 Wiki

Rediscovery and Historical Context

Experts rediscovered the medallion in 2000 within a prestigious collection of Italian Renaissance medals. Latin inscriptions praising Mehmed II’s greatness adorn the medallion. The absence of an imperial title hints at its creation before the fall of Constantinople. Its simple design. Lack of reverse markings, and small size suggest its use as a cherished personal amulet by the sultan.

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Comparative Artifacts

Although Mehmed II later commissioned other portraits, including a bronze medal by Costanzo da Ferrara and an oil painting by Gentile Bellini, none capture the youthful vigor and ambition that this rediscovered medallion shows. It stands as a testament to Mehmed II’s early years and as a bridge between Western and Islamic artistic traditions, marking a pivotal moment in history.

Additional Auction Highlights

  • Ceramic Tiles: Three tiles thought to be made in Türkiye’s Iznik. Measuring 25 centimeters by 25 centimeters, sold for £12,000, £14,000, and £15,000.
  • Iznik Ceramic Plate: A ceramic plate with a diameter of 30 centimeters, which experts estimate was made in Iznik in 1575. Sold for £55,000.
  • Ottoman Silver Incense Burner: Sold for £2,000.
  • Rosewater Sprinkler: Sold for £3,200.

This auction underscored the enduring fascination and high value placed on Islamic and Ottoman art, highlighting the rich historical tapestry these artifacts represent.

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