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Bonhams sets new world record for Turkish artist Fahrelnissa Zeid at Indian and Islamic Sale in London
The late Princess Fahrelnissa Zeid, (1901-1991) was a Turkish artist whose work blended the elements of Islamic and Byzantine art with western influences. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- A fabulous collection of paintings by Princess Fahrelnissa Zeid (1901-1991), work previously unknown, was sold in Bonhams Indian and Islamic art sale on October 2nd in New Bond Street. The sale achieved a total of £2,021,838.

The collection of works by the Princess came to light when a former employee of the family unearthed a box containing over 150 sketches, drawings, canvases, notebooks and letters, given to him when the artist moved residences. Many of the works greatly exceeded their pre-sale estimates.

The late Princess Fahrelnissa Zeid, (1901 – 1991) was a Turkish artist whose work blended the elements of Islamic and Byzantine art with western influences. She married into the Hashemite royal family of Iraq and is the mother of Prince Ra’ad, the claimant to the Iraqi throne.

Alice Bailey, Head of Indian and Islamic Art at Bonhams, comments: “A private collection of over 150 works by artist Fahrelnissa Zeid created frenzied bidding in the room, on the telephone and over the internet. As a result we saw a new world record achieved for works on paper by this artist, with Hotel Meguerditch Tokatlian at Therapia Bay, an ink and watercolour on card, selling for £26,000 on an estimate of £3,000-5,000. The collection was 100 per cent sold and the highly charged sale saw prices shouted out by bidders eager to purchase a work from the collection which was given to the vendor by the artist. Works on canvas performed exceptionally as well with paintings of Istanbul scenes including Emin Efendi Lokantasi achieving £217,000, Boats on the Bosphorus achieving £133,000 and a portrait of Queen Aliyeh of Jordan Arabian Queen achieving £127,000.”

“This wonderful body of works, produced over many years, shows the development of this artist very clearly from the 1940s until the 1970s. She was one of the most important and influential abstract artists of the 20th century having exhibited in Paris, Berlin, Istanbul and London. It is of major historical and academic interest as well as of great interest to those collectors who have always appreciated her work.”

Fahrelnissa was born in Istanbul into a prominent Ottoman family. Her father was the brother of the Grand Vizier and her mother was from an artistic family in Crete, sister of the author of the Fisherman of Halicarnassus.

She was then one of the first women to attend the Fine Arts Academy (Güzel Sanatlar Akademisi) in Istanbul and later in Paris at the Academie Ranson.

After a first marriage that produced two children she married Prince Zed bin Hussein, the ambassador of Iraq to Ankara and brother of King Faisal I.

Her first one-woman show was held in Istanbul in 1944, followed by exhibitions in London and Paris with a New York show in 1950 at the Hugo Gallery. She went on to participate in almost 50 exhibitions in Europe, U.S.A. and the Middle East.

Her husband died in 1970, and in 1975 she moved to Amman, Jordan to be close to her son Ra’ad. She established in the city the Fahrelnissa Zeid Institute of Fine Arts. She died in 1991 and is buried in the Royal Mausoleum in the Raghdan Palace, Amman.

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