Sotheby’s is the clear market leader in the field of Orientalist art, an area covering paintings of Turkey, North Africa, the Gulf and the Middle East. Whilst Orientalist art has long been central to the 19th Century European Paintings market, the emergence of new buyers in the region as well as the wider Islamic world has resulted in a significant growth in demand. Top quality works by artists, including Jean-Léon Gérôme, Ludwig Deutsch, Gustav Bauernfeind, Rudolf Ernst, Eugene Delacroix, Osman Hamdy Bey and Frederick Arthur Bridgman have recently achieved record levels.
Sotheby’s has a proud history of selling exceptional Orientalist paintings at auction. A market-defining moment was the landmark 1985 sale of Orientalist paintings from the collection of Coral Patroleum, Inc in New York. In October 2019, Sotheby’s London set a new benchmark for Orientalist paintings when it sold 36 works from the celebrated Najd Collection for £33.5 million – a record for an auction in this category. The sale set 10 new artist world records including for Jean-Léon Gérôme, Ludwig Deutsch, Gustav Bauernfeind, Charles Robertson and Eugène Fromentin.
Our strength as a global team over many years has won the trust of buyers and sellers alike. With representatives in Istanbul, Cairo, and Abu Dhabi, as well as colleagues devoted to the region in London and New York, we are best positioned to access new buyers particularly as Sotheby’s continues to scale up its operations in the Middle East.
Since 2012, Sotheby’s has sold over £75 million worth of Orientalist paintings in London alone. Over £42 million of this was achieved in in our annual Orientalist Sale. For the year 2019 to date, Sotheby’s market share for Orientalist paintings stands at 72% against our nearest two competitors in London.