Rare Works by Gustav Bauernfeind and Jean-Léon Gérôme Headline Christie’s Orientalist Art Sale in London-29 April 2019-
London – Christie’s London will present a standalone auction of Orientalist Art on 29 April, 2019. Comprising approximately 30 works, the sale will be led by Gustav Bauernfeind’s (1848–1904) monumental painting Forecourt of the Ummayad Mosque, Damascus,1890, which is arguably this German Orientalist artist’s most sensational work depicting Damascus remaining in private hands (estimate on request: in the region of £3 million). With the only comparable work in a museum collection, this painting presents the last possible opportunity to acquire an undisputed masterpiece by Bauernfeind depicting one of the largest and oldest mosques in the world. Further leading highlights include French artist Jean-Léon Gérôme’s (1824–1904), Prayer in the Desert, one of his most compelling prayer paintings which was painted at the peak of his career (estimate on request: in the region of £800,000) and Rudolph Ernst’s “Two warriors in the Alhambra Palace”,…… the Court of Lions in the background (estimate £400,000-600,000).
*All three works will tour to Dubai, where they will be on public view from 19 to 23 March, ahead of the pre- sale London exhibition opening on 26 April, alongside the pre-sale exhibition of Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds Including Oriental Rugs and Carpets.
Arne Everwijn, Christie’s Senior Specialist European Art:
“Following the tremendously successful curated sale European Art Part I in New York in October 2018, we are excited to reintroduce a dedicated sale of Orientalist Art. The standalone curated sale will offer the opportunity to give full and well deserved attention to this beloved collector’s field with its captivating depictions of the Middle East through the eyes of artists whose admiration, respect and fascination for other cultures was boundless.”
Evocatively capturing the allure of the East, Gustav Bauernfeind’s masterful use of colour and light, his richly attired figures and his exceptional understanding of the architecture are all irrefutably present in Forecourt of the Ummayad Mosque, Damascus (estimate on request: in the region of £3 million, illustrated page 1). In this picture, all the inspiration that this extraordinary and historical place of worship offered comes to a crescendo. The architectural beauty offered the artist the ideal backdrop, challenging his skills of exactitude to the fullest. The artist kept a journal of his voyage to Damascus in which he describes his first introduction to the great mosque on the 2 December 1888: Today I explored the city [of Damascus] and discovered the entry gate to the Great Mosque, a very gratifying motif.
Painted at the peak of Jean-Léon Gérôme’s career, Prayer in the Desert (estimate on request: in the region of £800,000, illustrated left) depicts a vast desert landscape with a long caravan trailing into the distance. The leader of the caravan has stopped to pray, a lance thrust into the ground beside him, a detail that not only provides a striking vertical element to an otherwise horizontal composition, but evokes the shape of a minaret. The man’s white Arnaut skirt, and his weaponry is rendered in the artist’s characteristic, highly detailed style. These objects lend an ironic twist to this otherwise pacific composition: Acts of war and peace are both at home in this barren landscape. The combination of one man’s private devotion and the endless expanses of sand, rock, and sky, make this one of Gérôme’s most compelling prayer paintings.
Best known for his paintings of elaborately costumed merchants,guards or pashas, Rudolph Ernst is a key artist within Orientalism.During his many travels to the Middle East, Ernst compiled detailed records of clothing and settings which he later incorporated in his paintings. His unrivalled skill in representing the intricate tile work and richness of colour and texture of fabric is clearly evident in Two warriors in the Alhambra Palace, the Court of Lions in the background (estimate: £400,000-600,000, illustrated right). The topography of the present painting makes it all the more important within the artist’s oeuvre. Where Ernst’s work was often the result of a carefully arranged composition, the present painting is set in the Alhambra palace, which even in the day of the artist was recognised as a rare historic site of Islamic Art on the Iberian Peninsula.
Orientalist Art at Christie’s:
Christie’s has consistently successfully sold Orientalist Art, formerly as standalone sales between 1998 and 2009 and latterly alongside 19th
Century European Art sales.
Christie’s holds Orientalist records for:
- Jean-Léon Gérôme
- John Frederick Lewis
- David Roberts
- Henri Emilien Rousseau
Christie’s, the world’s leading art business, had global auction, private and digital sales in the first half of 2018 that totalled £2.97 billion / $4.04 billion. Christie’s is a name and place that speaks of extraordinary art, unparalleled service and international expertise. Christie’s offers around 350 auctions annually in over 80 categories, including all areas of fine and decorative arts, jewellery, photographs, collectibles, wine, and more. Prices range from $200 to over $100 million. Christie’s also has a long and successful history conducting private sales for its clients in all categories, with emphasis on Post-War & Contemporary, Impressionist & Modern, Old Masters and Jewellery.
Alongside regular sales online, Christie’s has a global presence in 46 countries, with 10 salerooms around the world including in London, New York, Paris, Geneva, Milan, Amsterdam, Dubai, Zürich, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.
*Please note when quoting estimates above that other fees will apply in addition to the hammer price – see Section D of the Conditions of Sale at the back of the sale catalogue.
*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium. Sales totals are hammer price plus buyer’s premium and are reported net of applicable fees.