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Bonhams to offer important fresh-to-market works by artist and poet Kahlil Gibran
Kahlil Gibran (Lebanon, 1883-1931) Portrait of Yamile (The Essence of Her body). Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- Three important and rare works by world-renowned Lebanese-American poet and artist, Kahlil Gibran, will be offered at Bonhams Modern and Contemporary Middle Eastern Art sale on 24 October 2018 in London. It will be the first time these seminal oil paintings will appear at international auction.

Kahlil Gibran was born in Lebanon in 1883, before emigrating with his family to the United States, where he studied art and began his literary career. Gibran was a pivotal figure in the 20th century intellectual movement “Al Mahjar” that transformed Arabic literature. He is best known for his 1923 book, The Prophet. The work, which is made up of 26 prose poems written in English, has never been out of print since it was first published. As a result, Gibran is considered alongside Shakespeare and Lao Tzu as one of the world’s bestselling poets.

As an artist, his talent is arguably equal to his literary work. Whilst in Paris, Gibran mixed with the intellectual elite including WB Yeats, Carl Jung and Auguste Rodin, all of whom he painted. Portrait of Charlotte Teller, (1908-10), shows Gibran’s characteristic style of idealised beauty – he was an artist who favoured romance over realism. The soft-dream like quality of the work suggests the figures inhabit a spiritual realm, untouched by earthly existence. The work is estimated at £20,000-30,000.

His other works, Portrait of Yamile (1908-1910), with an estimate of £20,000-30,000, and Portrait of Amin Rihani (1908-12) estimated at £15,000-25,0000, are painted around the same period. Both depict striking solitary figures with the soft painterly touch of the artist.

Director of Bonhams Middle Eastern, Islamic and South Asian Art, Nima Sagharchi said ‘As an artist, poet, and thinker, Kahlil Gibran was one of the most celebrated Arab intellectual of the 20th century. Having bequeathed his entire estate to a family museum in Lebanon, the appearance of three of his oil paintings is a very rare occurrence. These pieces present a wonderful opportunity to acquire works from Gibran's most creative period.’

Other highlights from the sale include:

• On the Banks of the Nile, by the master of Middle Eastern Sculpture, Mahmoud Mokhtar. Estimates: £150,000-250,000.

• Mohammad Ehsai, He is Merciful, a striking piece by the Iranian calligrapher which explores Persian nast’aliq, estimate £50,000-100,000.

• Portrait de Mme Ahmed Pacha, (the wife of Ahmed Pacha Mazloum, former Egyptian Minister of Finance 1894-1908) by the acclaimed Egyptian artist Mahmoud Said, executed circa 1930s, estimate £50,000- 80,000.

• Charles Hossein Zenderoudi’s ode to freedom, Purple Pearl, estimate £40,000-60,000.

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