The Orientalist Sale brought a total of £5,367,500 and was led by Jean-Léon Gérôme’s Rider and His Steed in the Desert. The painting, which last changed hands when it was sold by the Fine Art Society in 1980, achieved £1,155,000. Evening Prayer, Cairo, also by Gérôme, commanded the second highest price of the sale when it sold for £735,000.
The sale opened with a superb and rare group of watercolours by David Roberts, which had remained in the same distinguished private collection since they were acquired in the 1970s and 1980s. Together, the 13 works brought a total of £560,625 exceeding the pre-sale high estimate for the group (£350,000-533,000).
Four new artist records were set, for Auguste Veillon (Halt in the Desert, sold for £312,500); Carl Haag (The Holy Rock, Jerusalem, sold for £275,000); Carl Saltzmann (Leander's Tower and the Old City Beyond, Constantinople, sold for £275,000), and Enrico Tarenghi (The Entertainers, sold for £118,750).
This year’s Orientalist Sale is among the most representative to date in terms of the range of artists, and subjects depicted. The sale is led by two rare and important oils by Jean-Léon Gérôme: Rider and his Steed in the Desert, and Evening Prayer, Cairo.
An important group of watercolours by David Roberts from a distinguished private collection includes views of Tangiers, Cairo, Suez, Petra, Jerusalem and Agra, as well as of the great Egyptian temples of Abu Simbel and Philae. A trio of watercolours by Carl Haag depicts the rarely painted Muslim shrine of the Dome of the Rock in the old city of Jerusalem, while another watercolour by Haag, executed on a grand scale, provides a unique historical record of the Temple of the Sun at Palmyra.
Along with paintings by Ben Marshall, Fredrick Arthur Bridgman, Léon Belly, Raphael von Ambros, Jacques Majorelle, to name just a few, and sculptures including by Pietro Calvi and Charles Cordier, the sale offers fascinating insights into the topographies, people, cultures, and customs of Turkey, the Levant, Egypt, North Africa and the wider Islamic world.