Lot 5
  • 5

WILLY ARACTINGI | Le Loup et l'agneau (The Wolf and the Lamb - From the Fable De La Fontaine Series)

20,000 - 25,000 GBP
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  • Le Loup et l'agneau (The Wolf and the Lamb - From the Fable De La Fontaine Series)
  • signed W Aractingi; signed, titled and dated 9/97 three times on the reverse
  • oil on canvas
  • 146 by 115cm.; 57 1/2 by 45 1/4 in.


Estate of the artist, Beirut 


Condition: This work is in very good condition. Some faint handling marks and paint abrasions across the four edges, most probably due to previous framing. A varnish stain can be noticed upon close inspection to the upper left corner edge. Some varnish irregularities to the center of the painting. No sign of restoration under UV light. Colours: The colours in the catalogue illustration are accurate.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Internationally renowned self-taught Lebanese artist Willy Aractingi has been part of numerous exhibitions globally, spanning across Lebanon, France, the UK and the US. His life trajectory was equally international; born in New York in 1930, Aractingi was raised in Cairo, studied in Grasse, before finally settling in Beirut in the late 1940s. Aractingi undertook painting at a very young age. His works are often differentiated by his use of unique colour gradations, bold pigments and recurring use of nature. His style is reminiscent to that of Henri Rousseau; however Aractingi’s choice of a rich colour palette remains very distinct and particular to his own individualistic style.

Aractingi’s greatest artistic achievement was painting Jean de la Fontaine's (French, 1621 - 1695) entire collection of 244 fables on individual canvases. He embarked on this mamoth project titled Magnum Opus in January 1989, whilst residing in France. Seven years and 244 canvases later, he completed the ambitious project in 1995 on the 300th anniversary of De La Fontaine’s death. This present work is from Aractingi’s renowned Magnum Opus series, a rare and beautiful depiction of De La Fontaine’s fable of The Wolf and The Lamb.

As with most of Aractingi’s works, upon first impression The Wolf and The Lamb comes across as innocent and playful. The vibrancy of colours in his paintings with which he is praised for, alongside his rich compositions project an element of humour and evoke light-heartedness. Upon further study, the audience can distinguish a clandestine defiance to the innocence depicted. Aractingi’s art is highly symbolic, often making strong references to issues of morality and injustice. The moral of De La Fontaine’s story of The Wolf and The Lamb is that the tyrant can always find a justification for his tyranny and will never acquiesce to the reasoning of the innocent.

Aractingi's works are extensively inspired by fictional stories and fables. He generously provides his audience a gateway into the creases of a fantasy world inhabited by folk creatures and copious animals; all brought to life using his vivid brushstrokes.  He continued to paint insistently up until his death in 2003; depicting Antar and Abla, Geha, Tarzan, Adam and Eve, and a plethora of animals throughout his oeuvre, where he skilfully intertwined the worlds of reality and fantasy.  Following his death, the artist's family estate donated 230 of his works to the Sursock Museum in Beirut. In 2017, the museum mounted a retrospective curated by Yasmine Chemali who gathered some 120 works under the title Les Mondes de Willy Aractingi. Sotheby's is privileged to be offering this important and rare work from the estate of the artist.