Chronology : 1830-1839 1850-1859 1890
1834 Choc de Cavaliers Arabes by Delacroix
1998 SOLD for FF 51M including premium by Piasa
narrated in 2020
In 1834 the oil on canvas Femmes d'Alger dans leur Appartement is the masterpiece of this new exoticism. It recreates the living room of a harem by featuring women from Paris dressed in Algiers fashion. The painting which indirectly addresses the taboo theme of prostitution is accepted at the Salon and immediately purchased by the Louvre. Picasso will compare this mixture of genres to his own Demoiselles d'Avignon.
In the same year, Choc de Cavaliers Arabes is a memory of a military celebration. The artist shows the moment of heightened energy when two riders stop their galloping horses after having fired the rifle shot required by the fantasia. The theme did not appeal to the Parisian jury : this piece was rejected by the Salon. Influenced directly by Géricault and Gros, Delacroix excelled in the representation of horses.
This oil on canvas 80 x 100 cm was sold by Piasa on June 19, 1998 for FF 51M, equivalent to € 7.7M, including premium, from a lower estimate of FF 8M.
The rejection by the Salon did not discourage the artist : two autograph drawings were made in 1834 in reverse composition to prepare the lithographic edition. One of them, 18 x 25 cm, was sold for € 39K including premium by Artcurial on June 16, 2020.
1855 A Dangerous Javanese Game
2018 SOLD for € 9M including premium
The action of a great violence involves ferocious beasts, together or confronted with hunters on horseback. His bestiary is too varied to be relying from personal Javanese memories : lions, tigers, deer, buffalo, boar.
The composition seems directly inspired by the hunting scenes painted by Rubens around 1620, with a swirling and vividly colored center in which the protagonists are intertwined up to the limit of readability. Men and animals express exacerbated feelings of panic and horror.
When he is in France, Raden Saleh is in touch with Horace Vernet but his more flexible lines are inspired by the Dutch landscape learned from Schelfhout. The similarity of his ardor with Delacroix's romantic orientalism is obvious, but the hunts by Raden Saleh were conceived long before the 1854 commission to Delacroix by the Beaux-Arts for a lion hunt.
Raden Saleh returned to Java in 1852, bringing with him the notoriety he acquired in Europe. Like Rubens, he is using very large formats. Like what tradition said of Rubens, he also likes to include his self-portrait in full activity among the hunters.
An oil on canvas 110 x 180 cm dated 1855 titled La Chasse au taureau sauvage Banteng (Banteng wild bull hunting) has just surfaced in Brittany, in a basement where the owners had hidden it for several decades because they were uncomfortable with its violence. Minor misses are reported. It is estimated € 150K for sale by Ruellan in Vannes on January 27, lot 1. Please watch the video shared by Interencheres.
1856 view of Constantinople by Aivazovsky
2012 SOLD for £ 3.23M including premium by Sotheby's
Shared by Wikimedia :
1870 Gérôme in the Desert
2019 SOLD for £ 3.14M including premium
Gérôme is also a tourist passionate about Greece, Turkey and Egypt. In 1868 with a small group of artists, he makes a long excursion in the desert, crossing the Sinai to the Gulf of Aqaba. His brother-in-law Albert Goupil is the photographer of this small expedition. In 1869 Gérôme is part of a delegation that attends the inauguration of the Suez Canal.
Gérôme's paintings interpret the arid sands and the overwhelming heat, an achievement that the black and white photography of the period could not do. As with the historical themes, the characters are stereotyped or picturesque.
On October 22 in London, Sotheby's sells a scene of riders crossing the desert, oil on panel 41 x 56 cm painted in 1870, lot 14 estimated £ 3M. This image was edited in photogravure by Goupil in 1878.
The foreground features three horsemen moving away from the dunes. The bearded old man is certainly the leader. The realistic image is also highlighting the famous beauty of the Arabian horses.
The scene is completed in the background by characters on foot or camel de-focused by the sand dust. All go in the same direction, bringing the dynamic impression of a coordinated movement. They are quiet but some wear a sword. The darker blue almost indistinguishable in the distance is probably Aqaba.
Gérôme cannot restrain himself from adding the tragedy. With a horse dying of overheat in a scenery similar to the example above, a rider in the desert, oil on canvas 60 x 101 painted in 1872, was sold for £ 1.15M including premium by Sotheby's on April 30, 2019.
سوذبيز @Sothebys تعرض 40 عملاً فنياً، في 22 اكتوبر، من لوحات المستشرقين لتاريخ العالم الإسلامي مُجسدةً كل جانب من جوانب الحياة في المنطقة بتفاصيل تقنية متميزة.— يوسف الحربي (@yousifalharbi) September 6, 2019
*لوحة راكبي الخيل في مصر قدرت بـ6 مليون دولار للفنان الفرنسي جان ليون جيروم pic.twitter.com/KS1O1ItMDl
1880 Young Woman Reading by Osman Hamdy Bey
2019 SOLD for £ 6.7M including premium by Bonhams
1881 A Pretty Lady of Constantinople
2008 SOLD 3.4 M£ including premium
This large size oil on canvas (185x109 cm) is signed at the upper left and dated 1881. At that time Constantinople was not yet Istanbul, and our artist was a little less than 40 years old.
The paintings of Hamdy Bey are far from being unknown in the auction sales, although such prices are not found in the free databases (Artvalue, Artinfo).
We went to ANTIK A. S for finding another work as important as our Lady, a painting of 220x120 cm showing a man at the entrance of a mosque room. It is at the top place in the record results of this auction house of Turkey. It had fetched 5 MYTL in 2004, the equivalent of $ 3.9 million.
Our Lady, elegantly dressed and veiled, stands in a sumptuous decor of carpets and tapestries. Slightly leaning, she is thoughtful and attentive.
At that time, in recent years and especially under French influence, Turkey was interested in the West, and Hamdy Bey is the Turkish artist who was soon impregnated by this new trend. Connoisseurs will certainly confirm a modern art aspect in this typically orientalist subject, and I am willing to believe that an important price will be achieved.
POST SALE COMMENT
It is pleasant to report a good result for a beautiful painting.
The Lady of Constantinople was sold 3.4 M£ including fees.
The image is shared by Wikimedia.
1882 Osman Hamdi Bey, the Reformer of Ottoman Art
2016 SOLD for TL 13.5M (worth € 4.4M) including premium
Hamdi Bey came to Paris in 1860 and remained there for nine years. He studied with Gérôme and Boulanger in that city at the time when Orientalist painting enjoyed a great success. Deputy Director of the Ottoman protocol in 1871, he was to remain loyal to this dynasty threatened by decline.
Influenced by European culture, Hamdi Bey became director of the Imperial Museum in 1881 and founded in 1882 the Academy of Fine Arts that would enable young artists to develop their skills without an exile in Europe. He early had a remarkable pioneering achievement in the protection of the archaeological heritage of the Middle East.
He nevertheless does not abandon painting in these years of intense official activity. His scenes of mosques are typical for the time but his portraits of courtiers are in the following of the Qajar art of Persia to which he brings an increased emotion.
The full length portrait of an elegant and veiled Lady painted in oil on canvas in 1881, 185 x 104 cm, was sold for £ 3.4 million including premium by Sotheby's on May 30, 2008. In the same technique but a smaller format, the portrait painted in 1878 of a young scholar comfortably lying to study a document in Topkapi remained unsold in April 2012 at Sotheby's.
On May 14 in Istanbul, Artam Antik A.S. sells a view of the front of the Green Mosque, oil on canvas 185 x 100 cm painted in 1882. The sunny steps and entrance are animated with faithful in the best European Orientalist style. This artwork is estimated TL 10M equivalent to € 3.25M, lot 130. Here is the link to the website of the auction house.
I invite you to watch the post sale video shared on YouTube by the auction house :
1883 Antony and Cleopatra by Alma-Tadema
2011 SOLD 29 M$ including premium by Sotheby's
narrated in 2020
Alma-Tadema paints the antique passions, with a sharp drawing and bright colors that evoke the Orient. He depicts the most beautiful women and their lovers, languid to the limits of debauchery. He surrounds them with luxurious objects for which he accumulates a strong documentation through his trips to Greco-Roman sites, his visits to museums and his abundant collection of photographs.
In 1883 Alma-Tadema is inspired by Shakespeare's play to paint the First meeting of Antony and Cleopatra for a private commission. The queen displays her beauty as in a window, in a barge covered with a canopy. The lover docks in a sort of gondola driven by Roman soldiers. Between the two, a slave girl plays the flute.
The composition is bold, letting see through the boats the sea and some elements of antique architecture. According to historians, this scene took place in Tarsus in 41 BCE. Never mind : it especially gives Victorian England the envy of the scandalous pleasures which indulgently appealed the greatest characters of antiquity.
This Antony and Cleopatra is the opus CCXLVI in the chronological list maintained by Alma-Tadema for avoiding counterfeits. This oil on panel 66 x 91 cm was sold for $ 29M including premium by Sotheby's on May 5, 2011 over a lower estimate of $ 3M, lot 65. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
The display of an instant effect into a dramatic action is a specialty of Alma-Tadema and will influence the scenarios and even some framings of the cinema. He is in some way an orientalist precursor of Norman Rockwell.
1887 Everyday Life in Jaffa
2019 SOLD for £ 3.7M including premium
Bauernfeind then alternates long stays in the Levant with periods in Munich during which he paints Orientalist scenes for his clients and participates in exhibitions. He works from photographs with an abundance of detail that makes his work an irreplaceable testimony of social life. He settles permanently in Palestine in 1896.
Neglected at that time by tourists, Jaffa pleases Bauernfeind to such a point that he shares the hard life of the inhabitants bothered by heat and by some insecurity and threatened by diseases. This home port also allows him to make frequent visits to Jerusalem.
On October 22 in London, Sotheby's sells a market scene in Jaffa, oil on canvas 82 x 109 cm painted in 1887 after three years in Palestine. The market is a fine excuse to bring together artisans of all specialties, rug weavers, potters, gunsmiths, beside merchants of oranges and melons. Women take water at the well or prepare bread. The dogs sniff baskets or take a nap in the sun, and the kids are nice.
This painting is estimated £ 2.5M, lot 9. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
1890 Good Readings with Hamdy Bey
2019 SOLD for £ 4.6M including premium
Osman came to Paris in 1860 at the age of 17 to complete his law studies. When he returned to Constantinople in 1869 with a French fiancée, he was an Orientalist artist, former student of the late Boulanger and friend of Gérôme.
He learned from his French masters the techniques of realistic figuration that are based on photographs. He will remain throughout his life a great servant of the Ottoman Empire. He disdains the scenes of artificial harems and keenly observes the religious practices and the luxurious costumes of the Turkish elites.
Hamdy Bey introduces progressive elements in his art, with a great subtlety that does not impeach his splendid cultural and administrative career. He stages himself with his family, probably to avoid remonstrances from other models. He is the only figurative painter in Turkey and his works have not been exhibited during his lifetime in his country.
For example the Lady of Constantinople wears the Islamic veil, but it is so transparent that it does not hide anything of her pretty face. This 185 x 109 cm oil on canvas painted in 1881 was sold for £ 3.4M including premium by Sotheby's on May 30, 2008. A smaller version is for sale at Dorotheum on October 23, 2019. Both have been narrated in this column.
The reading of sacred books is one of Hamdy Bey's favorite themes. His characters are made appealing by their passions or their carelessness. This deep humanism that leads the social criticism up to a pleasant mockery has no equivalent in European orientalist art, even less in Ottoman art.
Painted in 1878 with the atmosphere from Topkapi, the picture of a young prince sprawled on a couch for better focusing on his reading passed at Sotheby's on April 24, 2012. A young woman fooling her boredom by looking at a big book, oil on canvas 41 x 51 cm painted in 1880, was sold for £ 6.7M including premium by Bonhams on September 26, 2019 over a lower estimate of £ 600K.
On October 22 in London, Sotheby's sells Koranic Instruction, oil on canvas 80 x 60 cm painted in 1890, lot 21 estimated £ 3M.
In the luxurious interior of the Bursa Green Mosque, the standing teacher reads the book aloud without looking at the disciple. This serious man forgot to take off his babouches. The student is a mature man holding a closed book with a jaded attitude. He is a self-portrait of the artist, from a photograph that has been identified.
1890 Timeless Damascus
2019 SOLD for £ 3.6M including premium
During his second trip which begins in 1884, Gustav is enthralled by the atmosphere in the streets of Damascus, a city that knew to resist modernism. The presence of this foreigner amuses the locals who nickname him Father Casserole for the shape of his hat.
Back to Munich, he paints a funny scene in which he is tightly surrounded by a circle of on-lookers. This 51 x 68 cm oil on panel was sold for $ 1.08M including premium by Christie's on April 19, 2006.
Now passionate about Islamic art, Gustav returns to Damascus in 1888 to admire the Umayyad Mosque which he had only glimpsed during his previous trip. This monument is one of the wonders of Islam. Its site previously used for an Aramaic temple, a Roman temple and a Christian cathedral has a repercussion both grandiose and mystical.
The difficulties begin. Son of a Jew converted to Christianity, the artist is not a Muslim. To make his drawings, he can reach the outside porticoes by bribing the guards but his access to the rooms is strictly forbidden.
Gustav rightly feels that the lively and colored activity around the facades richly decorated with marbles and mosaics will be the theme of his masterpieces. In 1890 in Munich, he paints two oils on panel showing in different angles the preparation of an outdoor celebration with the soothing shadow of the portico in the foreground. He thus brings a rare direct testimony by a European visitor concerning this site before it was ravaged by fire in 1893.
One of these paintings, 121 x 97 cm, was sold for £ 2.5M including premium by Christie's on July 2, 2008. The other one, 121 x 92 cm, will be sold as lot 10 by Christie's in London on April 29. The March 6 press release announces an estimate in the region of £ 3M. Please watch the short video shared by the auction house.
1897 Exotic Fancy
2019 SOLD for £ 4.3M including premium
Deutsch paints types of picturesque characters, based on the photos from his travels. He uses the oil on polished panels for his sharpest compositions.
On October 22 in London, Sotheby's sells a panel 70 x 100 cm painted by Ludwig Deutsch, lot 15 estimated £ 1.5M.
An elderly dignitary walks towards the steps of a palace with sumptuous walls. He carries a closed scroll that defines his tribute to an invisible lord. He is followed at a distance by a nobleman, a soldier, and a slave bringing a big box which can only contain some offerings.
Other characters complete this scene which is unusually complex for this artist. A towering, heavily armed Nubian soldier blocks the entrance to the palace. The dramatic effect is obtained by the uncertainty about the reception that will be made to the delegation. Unrelated to the action, the group of a dealer and two customers increase this exotic fancy.
A 62 x 80 cm panel similar up to its tiny details was sold by Sotheby's for £ 2.15M including premium on April 23, 2013 over a lower estimate of £ 500K. This painting is dated 1897. It seems likely that this example was made by Deutsch for the Paris Salon before he painted for a customer the autograph copy that comes to the next auction. Curiously, these two artworks do not seem to be identified by titles in French.