Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Oriental classics under the hammer at Bonhams

Before the mosque painted by Edwin Lord Weeks in India. (SUPPLIED)
If you are a lover of Middle Eastern art then in all probability you will also like Oriental art as it gives a view of the region through the eyes of the Western world. And if you want to own some museum-quality Oriental art, then do attend the Bonhams auction today at the Royal Ballroom at the One & Only Royal Mirage, Dubai.
Talking to Emirates Business about the top paintings in tongiht's sale of 80 Oriental paintings, Taline Nicole Aynilian, Senior Specialist, Orientalist Art, Bonhams, said: "This is quite an extensive collection of Orientalist art and artifacts from the 19th and 20th centuries.
"These works of art have come from private collections from America and Europe and some of the works here have never been on public show before. Some of the paintings in this auction are museum quality paintings and the top three paintings in the lot are by Arthur von Ferraris, Edwin Lord Weeks and by Rudolf Ernst."
While the painting by Arthur von Ferraris titled A street in Cairo is estimated to sell for $1 million (Dh3.67m) to $1.5m the painting titled The presentation of the sword to the pasha by Rudolf Ernst is expected to go for $800,000 to $1,200,000 and one by Edwin Lord Weeks titled Before the mosque is estimated to fetch $400,000 to $600,000 at the auction.
Aynilian said: "Ferraris was a spectacular Hungarian artist who adhered to the academic school of painting. He painted this huge work on the spot in Cairo in 1892. This is a scene that the people in the region will recognise. The attention to detail in this work, (the Egyptian dress detail, the monkey, the smiling child) make this a story piece. This painting was exhibited in the Paris Salon in 1892 after Ferraris came back to Paris."
For the uninitiated, Paris Salon was the official art exhibition of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris, France. Between 1748 and 1890, it was the greatest annual or biannual art event in the Western world and from 1881 it was organised by the Société des Artistes Français.
Aynilian continued: "Ernst is the best known Orientalist artist in Europe and he is a master of detail. In The presentation of the sword to the pasha he has demonstrated his ability to paint different textures beautifully. For example, you have the silk tapestry, the velvet robe, the white marble floor, the tiger, rugs and the pillows, all painted to perfection.
"This painting has all the elements you want in an Oriental painting, i.e. the royal-looking man, the beautiful and accurately depicted woman, vibrant colours, rich patterns and textiles, the Middle East-inspired elements like the woodwork, the throne and the tapestry."
According to Aynilian these paintings capture the glamour and romance associated with the region. The artists of Orientalist paintings were seeing all this for the first time and they were trying to show the beauty and the difference in cultures from the people of the West who had not seen it.
Discussing the third painting by Weeks, Aynilian said: "Weeks was one of the most popular American Orientalist and this painting Before the mosque was painted in India. Weeks travelled all over the Middle East and then went to India in 1883.
"This is one of his first works in India and he painted the mosque from the city of Mathura on the spot but he added the figures in the painting in his studio in Paris. This is one of his first paintings in the series of mosques he painted later and it is historically quite accurate if you look at the architecture, the details of the tiles etc. This painting has a gem-like quality to it."

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