Doublure of a bookbinding

Historical period(s)
Safavid period, 17th century
Cut leather and multicolored paper
H x W (image): 25.8 x 16.6 cm (10 3/16 x 6 9/16 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Smithsonian Unrestricted Trust Funds, Smithsonian Collections Acquisition Program, and Dr. Arthur M. Sackler
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Bookbinding cover (doublure)

Henri Vever collection, Iran, Safavid period (1501 - 1722), WWII-era provenance

M. Hatchik Sevadjian (b.1884), method of acquisition unknown [1]

Sale, Paris, Hôtel Drouot "Collection de M. H. Sevadjian: Objets d'Art de haute Antiquité et de Curiosité" April 13-14, 1932, lot 82 [2]

Henri Vever (1854-1942), method of acquisition unknown [2]

Jeanne Louise Monthiers (1861-1947), bequest of Henri Vever [4]

Francois Mautin (1907-2003), bequest of Jeanne Louise Monthiers and Henri Vever [5]

From 1986
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery purchased from Francois Mautin [6]


[1] According to an inventory prepared in 1986, reportedly based on an appraisal prepared by M. A. Densmore, this binding was featured in the 1932 Hôtel Drouot's sale of the Sevadjian collection. See note 2. Born into an Armenian family in Istanbul, Hatchik Sevadjian relocated to Paris in 1902. He became a diamond dealer, opening a shop along the Rue du Faubourg-Montmartre, and a connoisseur collector, building a large collection of Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Indian, and Islamic antiquities.

[2] See Hôtel Drouot "Collection de M. H. Sevadjian: Objets d'Art de haute Antiquité et de Curiosité" [auction catalogue] (Paris, April 13-14, 1932), lot 82 reproduction on Plate XIII.

[3] An accomplished French jeweler and collector, Henri Vever (1854-1942) amassed a large and impressive collection of works of art during his lifetime. His holdings in Japanese prints and Islamic arts of the books, especially from Iran and India, were among the most important assembled in the early twentieth century. This work was in Vever's collection at the time of his death in 1942.

[4] Upon Henri Vever's death on September 25, 1942, his wife, Jeanne Louise Monthiers inherited the work. See exhibits F and G of Agreement of Purchase and Sale of the Henri Vever Collection, January 9, 1986, copy in object file.

[5] Upon the death of Jeanne Louise Monthiers, as stipulated in the will of Henri Vever, the family's assets were divided evenly between his two grandchildren. His only grandson, Francois Mautin inherited the collection known as "The Henri Vever Collection of Oriental Art and Manuscripts Including Persian and Indian Art and Manuscripts." This work is part of that collection. See exhibits F and G as cited in note 4.

[6] The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery purchased the collection from Francois Mautin on January 9, 1986. See purchase agreement, copy in object file.

Research Completed May 4, 2022

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

H. Sevadjian
Henri Vever 1854-1942
Jeanne Louise Monthiers 1861 - 1947
Francois Mautin 1907 - 2003


During the Safavid period, many bookbindings were also decorated on the interior surface. Known as the doublure, this elegant example is inscribed with six lines that refer to the art of writing:

 Ink was brought from the soot of the night, 
 Paper from the luminous morning. 
 The seven globes of the universe turn at the foot of 
 your calligraphy by Divine grace. 
 O Lord, what can the pen of your might do? 
 Calligraphy worthy of sovereignty.

Published References
  • H. Sevadjian. Publication title unknown. cat. 82, p. 22, pl. XIII.
  • Sheila R. Canby. Shah 'Abbas: The Remaking of Iran. Exh. cat. London, February 19 - June 14, 2009. cat. 46, pp. 82-83.
  • Glenn D. Lowry, Susan Nemanzee. A Jeweler's Eye: Islamic Arts of the Book from the Vever Collection. Washington and Seattle. cat. 75, pp. 216-217.
  • Glenn D. Lowry, Milo Cleveland Beach, Elisabeth West FitzHugh, Susan Nemanzee, Janet Snyder. An Annotated and Illustrated Checklist of the Vever Collection. Washington and Seattle. cat. 474, pp. 376-377.
Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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