Historical period(s)
Ottoman period, 17th century
Gilded leather over pasteboards
H x W: 22 x 40.6 cm (8 11/16 x 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

Book cover

Henri Vever collection, Ottoman period (1307 - 1922), Turkey, WWII-era provenance

Likely Gaston Migeon (1861-1930), method of acquisition unknown [1]

Sale, Paris, Hôtel Drouot "Tableaux modernes, sculptures, estampes composant la collection de M. Gaston Migeon" March 18, 19, 20, and 21, 1931, lot 345 [2]

Henri Vever (1854-1942), reportedly purchased at the M. Gaston Migeon sale held at the Hôtel Drouot [3]

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]See note 2 and 3. Gaston Migeon (1861-1930) was a French art historian and curator in the Department of Objets d'Art of the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Modern Period at the Louvre. He was also a highly regarded art critic and an early collector of East Asian and Islamic arts. He advised many of his contemporary collectors (including Henri Vever) and cultivated their interests in Japanese and Islamic art.

[2] See Hôtel Drouot "Tableaux modernes, sculptures, estampes composant la collection de M. Gaston Migeon" [auction catalogue] (Paris: March 18, 19, 20, and 21, 1931), lot 345, 59. The book cover is described as "Petite reliure persane, à rabat, en cuir ciselé et partiellement doré.

[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 book cover was in Vever's collection at the time of his death in 1942. Susan Nemazee notes that Vever purchased the book cover at the Hôtel Drouot sale (see note 2), see "Appendix 7: Chart of Recent Provenance" in "An Annotated and Illustrated Checklist of the Vever Collection" [exhibition catalogue] (Washington DC and Seattle WA: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery with University of Washington Press, 1988), 399.

[4] Upon Henri Vever's death on September 25, 1942, his wife, Jeanne Louise Monthiers inherited the book cover. 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 book cover is part of that collection. See exhibits F and G as cited in note 4.

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

Research completed on May 5, 2022.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Henri Vever 1854-1942
Jeanne Louise Monthiers 1861 - 1947
Gaston Migeon 1861-1930
Francois Mautin 1907 - 2003


An inscription, "Only the pure may touch it," suggests that this fine leather binding was intended for a copy of the Qur'an, although similar covers were used for secular manuscripts. Gold leaf highlights were created on block stamps, then pressed into the leather to leave a finely sculpted impression. The lavish application of gold leaf underlines the importance of manuscripts, such as the Qur'an, in the Islamic world.

Published References
  • 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. 475, p. 377.
Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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