RESULTS: 19th Century European Art including The Orientalist Sale, April 18, 2008 Sotheby’s, the sale of 19th Century European Art including The Orientalist Sale achieved a total of $26,377,050 (est. $23.7/32.9 million).
The top-selling work of the Orientalist offering was Jean-Léon Gérôme’s Rüstem Pasha Mosque, Istanbul, Property from the Estate of Mary O’Brien Gibson, Washington, D.C., which fetched $1,945,000 (lot 193, est. $1.8/2.2 million). This major work demonstrates Gérôme’s encyclopedic knowledge of the Middle East and his profound respect for some of its most distinctive cultural traditions. In this picture, Gérôme captured in great detail the vibrant colors and unique customs particular to this region.
Other highlights of the Orientalist offering include Walter Gould’s The Public Scribe from 1869, selling for $1,217,000 (lot 187, est. $800,000/1.2 million), setting a record for the artist. This work was chosen for the cover of Gerald Ackerman’s majestic American Orientalists (Paris, 1994). Works by the artist are extremely rare and are marked by an almost impossible clarity, a delicacy and precision of line, an intensity of color, and a haunting stillness that is virtually unparalleled in the genre.
Rudolf Ernst’s The Fountain of Ahmed, III, Istanbul, from 1892, brought $1,273,000, another artist record (lot 186, est. $650/850,000). This work is one of the most elaborate compositions by this artist to be offered for sale in recent years and an outstanding example of the qualities for which he is most admired. Depicting a scene of life in Egypt, Arthur von Ferraris’ Driving a Bargain, Cairo, from 1890, set an artist record, bringing $1,049,000 (lot 174, est. $500/700,000). In this work, two men bargain over a cord of red Islamic prayer beads outside the Mosque of Altinbugha al-Maridani in Cairo. Additional artist records were set for Clemente Pujol de Gustavino’s An Audience Before the Emir, which brought $157,000 (lot 183, est. $150/200,000) and for Federico Bartolini’s Rug Merchants, which sold for $61,000 (lot 162, est. $40/60,000).