Record Rise for Orientalist Paintings –

edward lear1 Record Rise for Orientalist Paintings   artmarketblog.comAs the art market continues to rebound, and new buyers continue to emerge from the middle east, the demand for top orientalist paintings has risen significantly over the last twelve months.  Exceeding the market high seen during the 2007/2008 boom, the prices being paid for the work of many orientalist artists have reached record highs. Christie’s 26 January 2012 Old Master & Early British Drawings & Watercolors held at the Rockefeller Plaza in New York saw the fifth highest auction price achieved for British/Italian artist Edward Lear whose orientalist watercolour painting Montenegro - a group of figures in a mountainous landscape – shot past the $120,000 – $180,000 estimate for a final price of $422,500.  Previously sold by Christie’s for US$93,400 (excluding premium) in 1992, the painting then passed to the vendor through Artemis, London in 1996.  Lear’s View of Gwalior, India, 1880 also sold well fetching  $170,500 against an estimate of $50,000 – $70,000.

Over at Bonhams, a new auction record was set for Russian artist Vasilii Dmitrievich Polenov with an orientalist inspired painting titled He that is without sin from the artist’s The Life of Christ series.  Estimated to sell for £1,200,000 – 1,800,000, this epic painting by one of Russia’s greatest artists sold for £4,073,250 during Bonham’s The Russian sale held on the 30 Nov 2011 in London.  Earlier in the year, on the 6th of June, Sotheby’s achieved a new auction record for one of Polenov’s contemporaries, Vasily Vasilievich Vereschagin, whose orientalist painting of the Taj Mahal sold for £2,281,250 against an estimate of £250,000 – 450,000.

According to French auctioneers Artcurial, they were the world leader in orientalist paintings in 2011, posting a turnover total of 5 million euros for the year.  Artcurial set four orientalist auction records during 2011 including:

  • La Kasbah rouge by Jacques Majorelle, 1924, sold for €1,315,818 on 9 June 2011;
  • A work on paper by Alexandre Roubtzoff, sold for €60,020 on 9 June 2011, reaching a record of €434,300, on 8 June 2010 for an oil painting from 1935, la Bédouine de Tunis;
  • La Tikka, l’heure du thé by Edouard-Léon-Louis Edy-Legrand, sold for €378,494 on 9 June 2011;
  • Les Beautés de Marrakech by Lucien Levy-Dhurmer, pastel on paper, sold for €297,900 on 18 December 2011.

image: Montenegro by Edward Lear

**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of http://www.artmarketblog.comt Record Rise for Orientalist Paintings, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.

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