'Most comprehensive' private Egyptian art collection auctions at Christie's

While Bonhams gears up its auction of works by the 'Father of Modern Arab Art' in Dubai on October 11, Christie's is also heading to the city later in the month for its second sale Modern Arab Art from the Farsi Collection, on October 26.

The auction follows the spectacular success of Christie's last April's sale, when it sold 25 works of art from the renowned collection recognised as the most comprehensive group of modern Egyptian art in private hands.

Prompted by his experience as a student in Alexandria, Dr Farsi became the driving force in the Egyptian art scene and his collection became the first of its type to be fully documented in text (A Museum in a Book: The Farsi Art Collection by scholar Dr Sobhy Sharouny, 1988).

Christie's last sale netted a total of $8.7 million, tripling its pre-sale estimate. This time, Dr Farsi has decided to part with a further 30 masterpieces, include paintings representing many of Egypt's most famous 20th century artists such as Mahmoud Said, Ragheb Ayad and Abul Hadi El-Gazzar.

Mahmoud Said (Egyptian, 1897-1964) The Whirling Dervishes,
1929: estimated at $300,000-400,000

There will certainly be high hopes for the lots on offer. The October 26 sale will feature a number of artists whose works have already sold for World Record prices this year in Dubai.

The leading highlight is The Whirling Dervishes, 1929, a spectacular early work by Mahmoud Said (Egyptian, 1897-1964) which is estimated at $300,000 to $400,000.

Born to an aristocratic Alexandrian family, the son of Egypt's prime minister and uncle to Queen Farida, Mahmoud Said trained as a lawyer, working reluctantly in that profession before devoting himself fully to his art in 1947.

The painting depicts six Mawlawi dervishes, each identically clad and with similar features but subtly different postures, performing a Sema dance around the circular stage of an Ottoman-era Semahane (ritual hall).

A new World Record auction price for the artist was established in April, when Les Chadoufs sold for $2.4 million - the highest ever paid for any painting by any Middle Eastern artist at auction.


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