Christie’s to Auction Orientalist Masterpieces in London

. October 22, 2009

Christie’s will offer a highly curated auction of 24 Orientalist masterpieces on November 25, 2009 in London. An important Private Collection of 9 works will form the core of the sale and includes four works by Jean-Léon Gérôme and three exceptional watercolors by John Frederick Lewis. These works will be complimented by important masterpieces of the highest standard from other sources including “A Square” by the New Mosque in Istanbul by Karl Paul Themistocles von Eckenbrecher which was painted by the artist for the World Exhibition in Vienna in 1873, and “Souk el Khemis” by Jacques Majorelle which is illustrated on the front cover of the artist’s Catalogue Raisonée. The sale is expected to realize in the region of £8 million.

Jean-Leon Gerome
Jean-Leon Gerome, “Man with a Waterpipe and Dog”. Estimate: £800,000 to £1,200,000. Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2009

The market for Orientalist Art has shown significant growth over the last few years as global interest in this field continues to grow. International auction sales of Orientalist art at Christie’s realized £10.9 million in 2005, £16 million in 2006, and at the auction in London in July 2008, the sale realized £18.1 million – the highest total realized by an auction in this category. Last year the extremely successful exhibition “The Lure of the East” was shown at Yale Center for British Art, New Haven; Tate Britain, London; Pera Museum, Istanbul; and Sharjah Museum. In 2010, an exhibition dedicated to the work of Jean-Léon Gérôme, one of Orientalist art’s leading figures, will be shown at The Getty Museum of Art, The Baltimore Museum of Art and the Musée D’Orsay.

Etienne Hellman, International Director for Orienatalist Art at Christie’s and Alexandra McMorrow, Director and Head of Orientalist Art at Christie’s London: “Over the last decade, and the last 5 years in particular, the international appetite for Orientalist art has grown considerably. In November we will offer a highly curated auction which will bring together 24 museum quality works sourced from around the world and which will present extraordinary opportunities to international collectors and instiutions in what will be a landmark sale for the category.”

An important Private Collection of 9 works will form the core of the sale and includes four works by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904). Probably the most celebrated artist associated with the Orientalist movement, Gérôme employed a highly finished and academic style in his painting. Inspired with and based on his frequent visits to Asia Minor, he would paint from sketches and photographs usually having staged scenes in his studio which would be filled with artifacts collected on his travels. The top lot of the auction is the artist’s “Man with a Waterpipe and Dog” (estimate: £800,000 to £1,200,000). Another highlight is “Dispute d’Arabes” which is expected to realize £200,000 to £300,000.

The greatest British Orientalist painter was John Frederick Lewis (1805-1876). An exceptionally talented watercolorist, he first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1821 when he was just 16 and he was awarded membership of the prestigious Old Watercolor Society 6 years later. The Important Private Collection includes three watercolor masterpieces by Lewis led by “The Midday Meal, Cairo” which is expected to realize £700,000 to £1,000,000. In June 2005 at Christie’s in London, the artist’s corresponding oil painting of the subject sold for £2,472,000.

Further highlights in the sale include “Souk el Khemis” by Jacques Majorelle (1886-1962) which is illustrated on the front cover of the artist’s Catalogue Raisonée and which is expected to realize £700,000 to £1,000,000; and “A Square” by the New Mosque in Istanbul by Themistokles von Eckenbrecher (1876-1935) which was painted by the artist for the World Exhibition in Vienna in 1873 and which carries an estimate of £300,000 to £500,000.

Category: Auction News

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