In ART, General

Last week, Sotheby’s London concluded their Middle Eastern and Orientalist Art Week, exceeding expectations and bringing in £18.7m ($24.4m) as an above-estimated total.

The auction saw 302 lots sold in two days, with 25% of the buyers being new to the iconic auction house.

The Art Week, led by the grand sale of the landmark piece Venetian Portrait of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent, was categorised into “Arts of the Islamic World”, “20th Century Art/Middle East”, and “The Orientalist Sale”, all of which witnessed immense participation.

A portrait of Suleyman the Magnificent, by a follower of Gentile Bellini, Italy, probably Venice, circa 1520. Photo source: Sotheby's website.
A portrait of Suleyman the Magnificent, by a follower of Gentile Bellini, Italy, probably Venice, circa 1520. Photo source: Sotheby's website.

The highlight of the Arts of the Islamic World was indeed the immense sale of the above-pictured artwork, selling at £5,323,500 ($7,035,005), however, further highlights of this section include the rare Iznik ‘Golden Horn’ pottery dish from Turkey–a last remaining artefact of the 1530 style, going at £531,000 ($701,717). In addition to the Turkish art, Indian miniature painting was also featured, such as the Mughal version of a 1524 engraving by Dürer of ruler Frederick the Wise from early 17th century, sold at £102,500 ($135,454), as well as an unknown illustration of a battle, attributed to artist Sur Das which doubled its estimate at £143,750 ($188226).

The section also included the sale of fine rugs and carpets, with the highlights such as the golden Persian silk, made for Fath-‘ali Shah, the second Qajar emperor of Iran – doubling its estimate at £150,000 ($196323).

The Orientalist Sale, in its eight season, grossed a total of £5,367,500 ($6,943,935), with its highlight being Jean-Léon Gérôme’s rare piece, Rider and His Steed in the Desert, selling at £1,155,000 ($1,494,224). The second highest price also went to another one of Gérôme’s compositions, Evening Prayer, Cairo– sold for £735,000 ($950,870).

13 watercolour works by David Roberts were sold as the private collection they were acquired in the 1970s and 1980s, for £560,625  ($725,281), in addition to four new artist records being set with Auguste Veillon’s Halt in the Desert, sold for £312,500 ($404,281); Carl Haag’s The Holy Rock, Jerusalem, sold for £275,000 ($355,768); Carl Satlzmann’s Leander’s Tower and the Old City Beyond, Constantinople, sold for £275,000 ($355,768), and Enrico Tarenghi’s The Entertainers, sold for £118,750 ($153,627).

The Middle Easter Modern and Contemporary art platform was very-well perceived, bring in £3,458,000 ($4,473,615). This year’s result is ranked as the second-highest total achieved since the reintroduction of the sale in London in 2015.

The auction’s highlight was Mahmoud Sabri’s master masterpiece The Death of a Child (1963) sold for £891,000 ($1,152,687), setting a new record for the artist himself.

The further highlight was a work by the influential Lebanese artist, Huguette Caland; a 1973 work on the female figure, sold for £187,500 ($242,569). Etel Adnan’s 1960 landscapes canvas also continues the streak of record-setting Lebanese artists, with the painting going at £131,250 ($171,137)-more than triple its estimate.

Sale records extended to a number of artists from the region, such as Siah Armajani (Iran), Hassan Sharif (United Arab Emirates), Mohammed Al Saleem (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia), and Willy Aractingi (Lebanon).

Artists such as the Emirati Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim, the Saudi artists Nabila Al Bassam, GCC, Abdullah Al Marzook, the Egyptian Mamdouh Ammar, the Kuwaiti Thuraya Al-Baqsami, as well as Abed Abdi and Samira Badran from Palestine.