Historical period(s)
Mamluk period, 14th-15th century
Leather over pasteboards
H x W (overall): 27.5 x 20 cm (10 13/16 x 7 7/8 in)
Egypt or Syria
Credit Line
Purchase — Smithsonian Unrestricted Trust Funds, Smithsonian Collections Acquisition Program, and Dr. Arthur M. Sackler
Arthur M. Sackler Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Book cover

Egypt, Henri Vever collection, Mamluk period (1250 - 1517), Syria

Likely Rudolf Meyer Riefstahl (1880-1936), method of acquisition unknown [1]

Henri Vever (1854-1942), likely purchased from Rudolf Meyer Riefstahl [2]

Jeanne Louise Monthiers (1861-1947), bequest of Henri Vever [3]

Francois Mautin (1907-2003), bequest of Jeanne Louise Monthiers and Henri Vever [4]

From 1986
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery purchased from Francois Mautin [5]


[1] See note 2. Rudolf Meyer Riefstahl was a German-American art historian specializing in medieval Islamic art. At the beginning of World War I, Meyer Riefstahl relocated from Paris, France to New York City, where he eventually became a professor at the Institute of Fine Arts. Meyer Riefstahl left his art collection in Paris and the French government sequestered the collection as an "Enemy Alien Asset." The collection was sold in two auctions, the first in 1923 and the second in 1925.

[2] 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.

On the interior of the book cover, "no. 1397" is written in pencil. The number matches a purchase Henri Vever made on January 21, 1914 from Rudolf Meyer Reifstahl. See Henri Vever Account Ledger, FSA A1988.04_2.2.67, from Henri Vever Papers. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. On January 21, 1914, Vever noted 4 purchases from Meyer-Riefstahl at 72 Faubourg St. Honoré. This book cover is likely what Vever described as "1 plat de reliure arabe, no.1397 -- 13-14e s."

[3] 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.

[4] 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 3.

[5] 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 May 4, 2022.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Henri Vever 1854-1942
Jeanne Louise Monthiers 1861-1947
Rudolf Meyer Riefstahl 1880-1936
Francois Mautin 1907-2003

Published References
  • The Hague. Catalogus tentoonstelling van Islamische kunst. cat. 40, p. 23.
  • 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. 466, pp. 367, 369.
Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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