Ismail Gulgee (Pakistan, 1926-2007) Horses

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Lot 31*
Ismail Gulgee (Pakistan, 1926-2007)
Horses

Sold for £ 86,500 (US$ 118,976) inc. premium
Ismail Gulgee (Pakistan, 1926-2007)
Lapis lazuli mosaic
120 x 108cm (47 1/4 x 42 1/2in).
Executed in 1989

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    Private Kuwaiti collection
    The present lot was commissioned directly from the artist in 1989/90.

    The present lot is an important work by the seminal Pakistani artist, Ismail Gulgee. Lapis Lazuli mosaic works such as this are rarely seen at auction. Bonhams sold a lapis lazuli mosaic work entitled 'Polo Players' at auction in 2008 [Figure 1], the first time in over a decade that a lapis lazuli work had been offered at auction.

    Born in 1926, Gulgee had initially trained as an engineer and held degrees from Colombia University and Harvard. Initially Gulgee's artistic endeavours were not taken seriously. Meeting with the Aga Khan in the early 1950s, when the country of Pakistan was still in its infancy, Gulgee was told that the nation needed engineers not artists as 'an artist brings glory to himself'.

    Gulgee's critical acclaim was received after his photo realistic commissioned portraits caught the attention of high ranking royalty and dignitaries in wider South Asia. Gulgee as an artist united the youthful Pakistani nation with the Middle East and Central Asia in a way that only an exchange of culture and art could. He was appointed as the portrait artist of numerous public figures such as the Afghan Royal family, the Crown Princes of Saudi Arabia and the Aga Khan.
    He chose to use a complex and expensive process of stone mosaics, delicately creating chiaroscuro by selecting light and dark pieces of the naturally occurring semi-precious stone, lapis lazuli.

    Reginald Massey speaks about Gulgee's process: "His chosen material is lapis lazuli which, in spite of the present troubles, still finds its way down from Afghanistan to Pakistan. The pieces are cut, polished and laid out by stone cutters. Then Gulgee selects the pieces he requires and has it cut out to the particular shape that he specifies. His considerations are those of colour, grade and feel. Finally the piece is fitted into the portrait and secured with polyester adhesive. After the portrait is completed it gets a rubbing down with fine diamond powder. This brings out the intrinsic lustre of the lapis lazuli." (M. Ismaili, Gulgee, Ferozesons, 2000, p.18)
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Ismail Gulgee (Pakistan, 1926-2007) Horses
Ismail Gulgee (Pakistan, 1926-2007) Horses
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20% from £50,001 to £1,000,000 the Hammer Price
12% from £1,000,001 of the Hammer Price

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