At Bonhams Islamic and Indian Sale In London

Islamic and Indian Art including Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art
24 Apr 2018
London, New Bond Street

Three works by one of Turkey's most important 20th century artists, Fikret Muallâ, (1903-67), feature in Bonhams Islamic and Indian sale in London on 24 April.

"Promenade au Coucher du Soleil" is estimated at £18,000 – 20,000, "L'Étalage de Poissons" at £18,000 – 20,000, and Les Ballons at £18,000 – 20,000.

Fikret Muallâ was born in 1903 into a wealthy family in Kadiköy, Istanbul. A childhood injury ended his dream of a sporting career, and left him with a permanent limp. His physical frailty, the early loss of his adored mother, and a difficult relationship with his stepmother left him plagued by mental instabilities in later life. He spent long periods in institutions, receiving treatment for paranoia and alcohol-related delirium.

Lengthy visits to Berlin and Paris in the 1920s strongly influenced Muallâ's burgeoning desire to paint. Back in Istanbul, he held his first exhibition in 1934, but gained little recognition, and in 1939 he left Turkey for France where he remained for the rest of his life.

Paris proved an inspiration for Muallâ. Despite his alcoholism and frequent bouts of mental illness, he painted at every opportunity. Faced with paper shortages during the Nazi occupation of Paris, for example, he tore posters from the wall while the soldiers' backs were turned, painted on the blank portions and exchanged the pictures for food and drink.

Frequenting bars and cafés, and working mainly in gouache, Muallâ produced a strong body of work characterised by vivid, bold blocks of colour. By 1954, the year of his first Paris exhibition, he had become part of the artistic scene, mixing with Picasso and other major figures of the time. The patronage of a collector, Madame Angles – the original owner of the works for sale – provided him with some financial stability. His health, however, continued to decline and in 1962 he suffered a brain haemorrhage. He died five years later in a hospital for the needy in southern France.

Bonhams Head of Islamic and Indian Art, Oliver White said, "Fikret Muallâ is considered one of the finest Turkish artists of the 20th century, alongside his friend Abidin Dino. Although his work shows influences of German Expressionism and Fauvism, he forged a style that was very much his own. His life was plagued by illness, yet he continued to produced wonderfully fresh work, even at his lowest ebb."


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest and most renowned auctioneers, offering fine art and antiques, motor cars and jewellery. The main salerooms are in London, New York, Los Angeles and Hong Kong, with auctions also held in Knightsbridge, Edinburgh, Paris, San Francisco and Sydney. With a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 22 countries, Bonhams offers advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full list of forthcoming auctions, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments, please visit

  1. Oliver White
    101 New Bond Street
    London, United Kingdom W1S 1SR
    Work +44 20 7468 8303
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