Topographical Views & Orientalist Paintings

Sotheby’s London will hold a Travel Sale over two consecutive days this year on Tuesday, 14 and Wednesday, 15 October, 2003. The first part of the sale on October 14 will be dedicated to an Art Reference Library, paintings and topographical views, whilst the second part will concentrate on the traditional elements of the sale, which comprise prints, travel books and maps. Each aspect of the sale will offer rare and important works which document and chart the West’s fascination with the East.

Art Reference Library – October 14 – This sale offers one of the finest Islamic art reference libraries to have appeared at auction in living memory and is set to inspire collectors and students of Arabic and Islamic Art alike. The library, which comprises some 200 lots, includes a large number of works, from the tentative enquiries of the late 19th century to the increasingly academic studies of the early 20th century which trace the growth in Western appreciation of Islamic art.

The extensive library covers all subjects from metalwork, glass and textiles to ceramics and architecture, and from arms and armour to manuscripts and calligraphy. Featured among the particularly scholarly works in the collection are masterpieces by Jules Bourgoin (the first European scholar to analyse geometric pattern in Islamic ornament) and Friedrich Sarre (an early 20th century German authority on the subject whose works were to spark Western interest in the field). There are also a number of lavishly illustrated folio volumes, for example Pascal-Xavier Coste’s Monuments modernes de la Perse (1867, Est: £6,000-£9,000).

Together, the 2000 volumes that make up the collection provide a rare insight into the West’s ever-increasing fascination with the mysteries and beauties of Islamic art.

Topographical Views and Orientalist Paintings – Comprising the 19th century central European & Orientalist component to the sale are two outstanding highlights. Caravane dans le Désert by Jean-Léon GérTMme (1824-1904) was painted circa 1860 after the artist had visited Turkey. It has not been seen in public for over a quarter of a century. The image of camels, horses, mules, oxen and a variety of conveyances, in the procession of thousands of Cairene citizens as they start out on their annual pilgrimage to Mekka, reaffirms Gér me’s career as an Orientalist or a peintre ethnographique. It is estimated at £30,000-£40,000.

Painted in 1910 Ernst Koerner’s View inside the Temple of Philae, Egypt depicts the temple complex, situated on the eastern bank of the Nile on the sacred island of Philae, which was begun by Ptolemy II and completed by the Roman Emperors. Prior to its relocation the temple was submerged for most of the year, therefore to paint the present view Koerner would have visited the site whilst the gates of the Old Dam were open to allow the annual flood through, during the months of August and September. It is estimated at £15,000-£20,000. Among other orientalist paintings to feature in the sale are watercolours by eminent artists including Gustav Bauernfeind (Est: £30,000-£40,000) and Luigi Mayer (Est: £40,000-£60,000)

Among other works in the sale is an 18th-century pair of oils, View of Valetta and View of Fort Manoel, attributed to the Maltese artist Giorgio Pullicino (1779-1851). The pair is estimated to fetch £30,000-£50,000. Also A view of Havana, a rare work from the late 18th century, when the city was one of the world’s great commercial centres is estimated at £20,000-£30,000. A Panoramic view of Constantinople is an Italian school watercolour presenting a rare early 19th-century view of Turkish Constantinople. Depicting Stambul in all its architectural splendour and conveying the impression of its full scope and size, it is estimated to fetch £50,000-£70,000.

Constituting part of the contemporary element of the sale are four works by Keyt and seven by Peries, which were consigned by Martin Russell (Assistant Private Secretary, between 1940 and 1942 to Duff Cooper, the Minister of Information) who acquired the works for his private collection, buying directly from the artists themselves whilst he was living in Singapore.

The sale is set to include George Keyt’s (1901-1993) oil on canvas Nayika, estimated at £6,000-£8,000. Keyt, born in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) was heavily influenced by Cubist landscapes, as well as works by Picasso and succeeded in fusing these Western influences with his Eastern subject matter. His paintings have been exhibited at major galleries worldwide and in 1954 he exhibited at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA). Permanent collections of his work are held privately and among public collections are those held at the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum. Ivan Peries (1921-1988) whose works also feature in the sale was, like Keyt, a founder member of the 43 Group of Artists and his works are also exhibited widely. These works are likely to appeal to Sri Lankan art collectors or connoisseurs.

Books and Prints – October 15 – A single owner collection of books and prints documenting the Middle East, comprises works on the Holy Land, Muslim architecture and Turkish costumes and includes the 1840 Illustrations of Cairo by Robert Hay (1799-1863), a leading member of the 1826-1838 archaeological expedition to Egypt, and is estimated to fetch between £1,500 and £2,000.

A rare first edition of L.F. Cassas’ Voyage pittoresque de la Syrie, 1799 (right) estimated at £5,000-£7,000 and contains dark copper plate impressions of Cairo, Syria, Palmyra and the Lebanon which are printed on uncut sheets. The collection will also feature H.A. Barker’s Panorama of Constantinople, 1813 (Est: £3,000-£5,000) and a quarto edition of David Roberts’ Holy Land is estimated at £3,000-£4,000.

Some fabulous travel accounts of Arabia Felix, contemporarily recognised as the Yemen, include George Forster Sadlier’s extremely rare Diary of a journey across Arabia, highlighting travels from El Khatif in the Persian Gulf to Yambo in the Red Sea (Est: £15,000-£20,000). Published in Bombay in 1866 the work represents a rare example of Indian publishing in the 19th century.

The sale will also include a small collection of works from the late Asbed Donabedian’s library which will comprise works on the Armenian diaspora, history, art, architecture, literature, philosophy, religion, science, manuscripts and numismatics, to which he devoted most of his life.

Maps and Atlases – A wonderful double page hand-coloured woodcut map depicting Arabia with the Red Sea and Persian Gulf, from the Waldseemuller edition of Ptolemy’s Geographia, is estimated to fetch £4,000-£6,000. Of great interest to historiographers specialising in Turkish or Cypriot history is a particularly exquisite map produced by the German mapmaker Jenichen, Cyprus, the siege of Nicosia. Estimated at £20,000-£25,000 this rare broadsheet shows the line of Turkish troops’ batteries and the storming of the bastion at the north of the city of Nicosia during the Turkish conquest.

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Published in: on October 6, 2003 at 12:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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