New York− Bonhams is delighted to announce the autumn sale of 19th Century European Paintings on November 8, which is highlighted by a superb selection of newly discovered Orientalist paintings by Jean-Léon Gérôme and Ludwig Deutsch. Leading the sale and also the cover lot is Jean-Léon Gérôme’s arresting portrait of A Bischari warrior (estimate: $150,000-200,000). This striking work has been in America since 1873 and has not been seen on the market since. This painting is one of two works commissioned by the New York art dealer, Samuel Avery, from Gérôme in 1871. This work is exquisite in its simplicity and compositional equilibrium. The light highlights the strikingly exotic face with high cheek bones and sensual lips, and his bare chest adorned only with his warrior's attributes. Gérôme is accurately depicting the unique traits of the Bischari Bedouins of the Sudan Desert and Southern Egypt. They were known for their round faces, their straight noses and large eyes and their trademark thick hair is echoed here by the roundness of the shield held by the sitter.
Another exciting discovery work and a tour-de-force by Jean-Léon Gérôme is Sultan persan en prière (estimate: $125,000-175,000). This painting was previously recorded as lost in Gerald Ackerman's monograph. The work has been in private hands in the Tri-State Area since Gérôme's dealer sold it to the New Jersey banker, Henry Graves, and has not been seen for 70 years. In 1887, Gérôme was at the height of his fame and was very well-known in the United States. His interest in men at prayer and mosque interiors began in the 1860s, during his travels through Egypt and Turkey from which he brought an extensive supply of sketches, photographs and oriental costumes for studio use. Unlike other previous works that keep the viewer at a respectful distance, this painting brings the viewer into the private space of the figure, intruding upon his silent conversation with Allah. Barely any other details distract the attention from the arresting, solitary figure.
The sale will also feature Ludwig Deutsch’s Early Morning, 'Id el-fitr (estimate: $250,000-350,000), the painting’s first time at auction. This scene depicts the celebratory holiday marking the end of Ramadan. Featuring a brilliant color scheme and motifs including well-worn tombstones, the work alludes to the brevity and cyclical nature of life. Using an enormous collection of photographs amassed in Cairo, Deutsch captured everyday moments in time, lending an almost cinematic quality to his works.