Suleiman Mansour's iconic Jamal Al Mahamel II will go on sale at Christie's on March 18, with the auction house billing the work as one of the most iconic Middle Eastern images ever produced.
Translating to Camel of Burdens II, the work dates to 1973, and has since become the most celebrated work in Mansour's oeuvre. It is expected to make between $200,000 and $300,000 in Dubai, with the proceeds to benefit Palestinian art charities.
The original was gifted to Libyan dictator Muammer Gaddafi by the former Libyan ambassador to London, but is believed to have been destroyed during the 1986 American bombing of the nation. The example at auction is a recreation, painted in 2005 by Mansour.
The second version has slight changes, including the addition of more of Jerusalem's Christian motifs such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which was left out of the original due to Mansour's political concerns.
The work is a reflection of Palestinian life in exile, with the city on the travellers back representing the lost homeland that Palestinians around the world carry with them. The sack is eye-shaped, and is seen as a nod to the Arab idiom that describes a loved one as the pupil of one's eye.
Mansour (b. 1947) is not only an artist, but cartoonist, art instructor and author, and continues to contribute to art education and its promotion in the West Bank.