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Sotheby’s largest-ever Orientalist and Middle Eastern Art Week realised a total of £15.72 million ($22.64 million) exceeding all pre-sale expectations of £9.9-14.2 million ($14.2-20.4 million).
The week included five auctions - The Library of Mohamed and Margaret Makiya, The Orientalist Sale, Arts of the Islamic World, 20th Century Art/Middle East and Alchemy: Objects of Desire – held between April 19 and 21 at Sotheby’s salesroom in London, UK.
The unique grouping of five sales spanning centuries of art attracted thousands of visitors to its galleries, where eight artist records were set during the week.
Highlights ranged from ultra-rare sculptures with a political message to books that sold for more than 200 times their high estimate.
The Orientalist Sale showcased important Orientalist paintings of Turkey, North Africa, the Levant and the Middle East, bringing a total of £3.76 million ($5.41 million). The auction was led by Ludwig Deutsch's luminous masterpiece Morning Prayers, 1902, which sold for £545,000 ($785,000), while Frederick Arthur Bridgman’s, The Prayer, sold for £509,000 ($733,000), five times its pre-sale estimate.
An auction record was set for artist Charles Wilda when A Mystic Cairo sold for £245,000 ($353,000). The artist travelled to Egypt in the early 1880s and set up a studio in Cairo.
Sotheby's relaunched 20th Century Art/Middle East sale brought £2.04 million ($2.95 million), well apst its estimate of £1,040,500–1,439,500, including a record for Mahmoud Mokhtar, the first Egyptian sculptor to follow the pharaonic tradition of sculpting. On the Banks of the Nile, which sold for £725,000 ($1.04 million) (est £120,000-180,000), is an elegant and determined depiction of the struggle for political independence and the emancipation of women in Egypt in the first decades of the 20th century.
The single-owner sale of the impressive library of distinguished Iraqi architect Mohamed Saleh Makiya and his wife Margaret attracted strong bidding to soar more than six times over the pre-sale estimate. The sale was led by The Levant, a collection of 15 volumes on Palestine, the Holy Land, Syria and Lebanon, which sold for an impressive £425,000 ($612,000), over its estimate of £1,000-2,000.
The Levant and Egypt, a collection of seven volumes, meanwhile, sold for £365,000 ($526,000). The sale attracted many new bidders who were keen to acquire books from the Makiyas’ library and strong competing bids from the Middle East also meant a great result for The Levant and Egypt volumes.
A third collection from the library of Mohamed and Margaret Makiya - Iraq, A Collection of 229 Volumes Relating to Iraq, From Ancient Times to the Present - also soared past its estimate (£1,000-1,500) to sell for £317,000 ($457,000). The volumes relating to Iraq include Richardson's The loss of the Tigris, a poem (1840), Huart's Histoire de Bagdad (1901) and many more.
The Bull, a unique and striking sculpture by the most renowned post-war Egyptian sculptor Salah Abdel Kerim, sold for more than four times its estimate for a record £173,000 ($250,000). Other world records for artists at this auction included Iranian artists Leyly Matine Daftary, Maliheh Afnan and Taher Pour Heidari, Jordanian artist Mona Saudi and Iraqi artist Zeid Saleh.
The Arts of the Islamic World auction brought in an above estimate total of £5.416 million ($7.8 million) and was led by an impressive painting depicting the enthronement of Sultan Osman II in 1618 that sold for £521,000 ($750,000) well over its estimate of £150,000-200,000. The painting, by an artist travelling with Baron Hans Mollard von Reinek, the Austrian ambassador at the time, represents perhaps the earliest known depiction of an Ottoman courtly ceremony.
Meanwhile, a rare and exciting discovery, one of only two known Iznik examples in existence, a late 16th-century lavender-ground pottery matara sold for £389,000 ($560,000), nearly eight times its pre-sale estimate.
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