World Record For Osman Hamdi Bey Masterpiece
Return of the Orientalists at 19th Century Art Sale
Osman Hamdi Bey (Turkish, 1842-1910) Young Woman Reading

Young Woman Reading, a rare work by the 19th century Turkish painter, Osman Hamdi Bey (1982-1910) sold for £6,690,363 million, a new world record price for the artist at auction, in Bonhams 19th Century European, Victorian and British Impressionist Art in London today, 26 September. It had an estimate of £600,000-800,000. The sale made a total of £11,424,793.

Bonhams Head of 19th Century Art, Charles O'Brien said, "Young Woman Reading was one of the finest of Osman Hamdi Bey's paintings to appear at auction in recent years. I am not surprised that the bidding was so strong and that it set a new world record sum for the artist. The sum achieved for Young Woman Reading, and for the three works in the sale by Ludwig Deutsch, demonstrate the strength of the market for Orientalist paintings."

Three other Orientalist works, by the leading Austrian orientalist painter Ludwig Deutsch, were also the subject of fierce bidding.

The Qanun Player: Sold for £1,167,000. (Estimate: £300,000-500,000).
The Connoisseur. Sold for £337,563. (Estimate: £150,000-250,000).
The Goza Smoker. Sold for £1,143,000 (Estimate: £120,000-180,000).

Osman Hamdi Bey was a remarkable figure who combined his life as an artist with a career as a public administrator in the Ottoman bureaucracy, an archaeologist and – as Director of the Imperial Museum, and founder of the Istanbul Archaeological Museum – a pioneer of the profession of museum curator in Turkey. He also founded the Istanbul Museum of Fine Arts.

Trained initially as a lawyer, Osman Hamdi Bey embraced painting while completing his law studies in Paris in 1860. He studied painting under the great French orientalists Jean-Léon Gérôme and Gustave Boulanger. He exhibited at the 1867 Paris Exposition Universelle and continued to paint throughout his life despite his many public duties.

Osman Hamdi Bey's paintings reflect his years of study with Gérôme and Boulanger but as the leading travel writer and authority on the Muslim world Barnaby Rogerson wrote in the autumn edition of Bonhams Magazine: "In his works, he was not throwing together random picturesque objects, but composing a loving tribute to his homeland which for centuries had created dazzling ceramics, textiles, buildings, carpets, gardens and texts that his paintings assembled."


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