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Sotheby's Paris announces Orientalist Pictures & Islamic Art sale to be held on 9 October
Henri Rousseau, Rider & Sloughi, 1929. Est. €22,000-32,000/ $27,000-40,000. Photo: Sotheby's.

PARIS.- Sotheby’s announced the sale in Paris on 9 October 2012 of a superb ensemble of Orientalist pictures, Islamic works of art, ceramics, arms, and Moroccan jewellery from the famous Villa Aïn Kassimou in Marrakesh, property of Patrick Guerrand-Hermès.

Monsieur Guerrand-Hermès is a descendant of the founder of Maison Hermès, and has been a discreet, efficient director of the group for a number of years. He is also a sports-lover and keen polo enthusiast, who has recreated the warm atmosphere of a fine, late 19th century Moroccan residence in this enchanting villa, swathed in bougainvilleas and colourful flowers.

The collection includes a magnificent ensemble of equestrian scenes, reflecting the Hermès family’s passion for horses.

19th Century Orientalist Pictures from the Patrick Guerrand-Hermès Collection
Orientalism and its array of itinerant artists is the central theme of the collection which Patrick Guerrand-Hermès has amassed at the Villa Aïn Kassimou. The ensemble of around one hundred paintings, drawings, watercolours and engravings presents a sweeping overview of (mainly French) Orientalist Art from the late 18th century to the 1930s.

The 19th century saw a number of events drew attention to the Near East in the wake of Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign of 1798, when many artists followed Bonaparte’s armies. Then came the War of Greek Independence in 1822 and France’s conquest of Algeria in 1830. Painters, writers and historians, keen to discover far-away lands and age-old civilizations, set off for adventure, braving the dangers and difficulties of such expeditions to discover Egypt, Turkey, Algeria or Morocco. The impact of so many new sights and impressions would be considerable, and modify artists’ vision in the long term.

The Villa Aïn Kassimou Collection captures the tremendous diversity of Orientalist painting–reflecting the variety and immense richness of Islamic culture, from the Maghreb to Turkey; the lengthy time-span of the Orientalist movement; and the very varied goals of the artists involved. Some concentrated on scenes from everyday life, displaying extraordinary realism and concern for detail; others specialized in studying effects of light and simmering heat in vibrant, luminous landscapes. Many were fascinated by the sensuality, power and even cruelty associated with these exotic lands.

The top lots include La Sortie du Pacha by Alfred Dehodencq, a major work by the artist dated 1869, whose bright color-contrasts and lighting effects produce the sense of drama associated with his finest paintings (estimate €120,000-180,000/ $149,000-224,000).

Other highlights include three paintings by Henri-Emilien Rousseau, inspired by the world of riders and huntsmen from the High Plateaux of Algeria, including his Départ de la Fantasia from 1903 (est. € 50,000-70,000/ $62,000-87,000); Rider & Sloughi, 1929 (est. €22,000-32,000/ $27,000-40,000); and Three Riders (est. €20,000-30,000/ $25,000-37,000).

George Washington’s Riders Hunting (est. €25,000-35,000/ $31,000-43,000), Gustave Flasschoen’s Falcon Hunt (est. €25,000-35,000/ $31,000-43,000) and Edouard-Edmond Doigneau’s Falconers on Horseback (est. €3,000-5,000/ 4,000-6,000) also contribute to the sale’s equine theme.

Charles-Emile Vacher de Tournemine travelled through Algeria, Asia Minor and Egypt between1863-69. His vision of the Orient is not realistic or ethnographical, but evokes the wonders of paradise, full of seductive beauty. His interested in reflections and immaterial plays of light, contrasting with more earthy aspects, can be admired in his Elephants Bathing. He became interested in these creatures towards the end of his life, and his first painting of African elephants was shown at the Salon of 1867 (est. €60,000-80,000/ $74,000-99,000).

In his view of the Mihrishah Fountain – Constantinople, Félix Ziem strove to portray the dazzling sunshine and light sparkling on water and the walls of monuments. Ziem liked to portray the slender fountain surrounded by groups of figures locked in conversation. The composition opens on to the Bosphorus, with the buildings of Istanbul silhouetted against the horizon (est. €30,000-50,000/ $37,000-62,000).

An important ensemble of works by Edy Legrand includes a work in gouache and oils featuring a busy scene outside a kasbah. Legrand was fascinated by these districts ringed by tall, earth walls, with their endless nuances of red and ochre (est. €30,000-40,000 / $37,000-50,000 apiece).

Jacques Majorelle's talents as a colourist are fully showcased in his portrait of a naked negress, entitled Girl in my Garden, whose supple, sensual silhouette is underpinned by a subtle interplay of luminous and chromatic contrasts (est. € 60,000-80,000/ $74,000-99,000).

Rêverie sur la Terrasse des Oudaias by the Russian artist Anatole Pavil (est. €45,000-65,000/ $56,000-81,000) reflects the taste of Monsieur Guerrand-Hermès for Orientalist refinement.

The collection's furniture and objects d’art include 19th century ceramics; a fine collection of arms and silver jewellery; and some richly adorned furniture, notably a large 19th century cedar-wood commode from Syria incrusted with pewter and mother-of-pearl (est. €7,000-10,000/ $9,000-12,000).

Glimpses of the Orient
The sale also features a fascinating selection of works by artists who travelled to North Africa. Two works by Edy Legrand –some elegant Moroccans in festive costume (est. €100,000-150,000/ $ 124,000-186,000) and his Aouache à Telouet (est. €90,000-120,000/ $112,000-149,000)–are featured alongside a splendid portrait of a Tunisian woman by Alexander Roubtzoff (est. €70,000-90,000/ $87,000-112,000) and an enchanting dusky beauty by Jacques Majorelle (est. €60,000-80,000/ $75,000-99,000).

There will also be two rare Islamic manuscripts: a 10th century parchment folio from the Koran (est. €4,000-6,000/ $5,000-7,000); and a signed, 19th century Ottoman Koran (est. €4,000-6,000/ $5,000-7,000).

* estimates do not include buyer's premium

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