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The 19th Century Middle East – Hot, Hot Hot!

April 25, 2018

Edwin Lord Weeks’s “Rabat”

This week Sotheby’s presented a small selection of 19th century Orientalist works, and the results were impressive.  Taking the top spot was Edwin Lord Weeks’s Rabat (The Red Gate) which brought £573K ($799K – est. £200-300K). In second was Paul Joanowits’ Bashi-Bazouks Before a Gateway at a really strong £465K ($648K – est. £100-150K) and in third was Cesar dell’Acqua’s An Ottoman Beauty which sailed past is £60-80K estimate to sell for £405K ($565K).  Rounding out the top five were works by Anders Zorn (£309K/$431K – est. £300-500K) and Gérôme (£297K/$414K – est. £200-300K … this same painting was sold in a New York sale last November and made $213K … not a bad return in 5 months).

Paul Joanowits’ “Bashi-Bazouks Before a Gateway”

There were many other strong showings including Ralli’s Stringing Pearls (£273K/$380K – est. £80-120K), Girardet’s Evening Prayers (£175K/$244K – est. £150-200K), Bridgman’s An Interior in Biskra (£213K/$296K – est. £70-100K) and another Gérôme – Arnaut Drinking – at £163K/227K – est. £60-80K … this same painting appeared at a sale in Germany last November and brought $31K – talk about a really nice return on the investment!

Cesar dell’Acqua’s “An Ottoman Beauty”

While there were some works that failed to sell, including those by Pasini, Rousseau, Brest, Styka, and Bridgman … they really did not have a significant impact on the final results.  Of the 61 works offered, 48 sold (78.7%) and the total take was a fiery £5.18M ($7.2M) … their presale estimate range was £3.5M – 5.12M, so they fell comfortably in the range at the hammer and eclipsed it with the buyer’s premium.

Of the 48 sold works, 15 were below, 19 within and 14 above their estimate range … giving them an accuracy rate of 31.1% (which is not too bad given the fact that we have seen some recent sales come in well below 10%).  In addition, 23% sold above their range (a strong showing) and the top 3 works combined made £1.44M, or just 28% of the sale’s total – another sign of a strong, well-curated, sale with broad interest.