John Frederick Lewis (British, 1804-1876)
VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 2… Read more AN IMPORTANT GROUP OF ORIENTALIST PAINTINGS AND DRAWINGS FROM THE MARC AND VICTORIA SURSOCK COLLECTION "I never went about collecting in a didactic way. I was drawn by the beauty and the symbolism of a picture." Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan interviewed by June Dukas, The Daily Telegraph, 1998, during his collection exhibition Princes,Poets,and Paladins at The British Museum Through the Marc and Victoria Sursock collection of Orientalist paintings and drawings, one is carried from Constantinople to Egypt, visiting the shores of the Bosphorus, harem interiors, the Tombs of the Caliphs, and swept away even further to the hills of Rajasthan, the mythical palaces of Gwalior and Jodhpur, all the way to the exotic Persian horse markets of Bombay. This collection, in which topographical views, palaces and odalisques mix in an exquisite panorama of oriental luxury and refinement, is one of the most important groups of Orientalist works to come to market in recent years. Considered as an ensemble, these paintings and drawings have a unique and subtle stylistic coherence. Acquired over the years with great discernment they reflect not only the collectors' aesthetic sense, but also their own personal experience and family history at the confluence of East and West. "These Works are part of a collection which I acquired through the years, often advised by and in presence of my adoptive father Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan to whom I dedicate these words. Prince Sadruddin loved the Orient where he felt, of course, were his roots. His world renowned Collection of Islamic Art Collection will soon be seen again in the new stunning Aga Khan Museum in Toronto due to open in 2013." Marc Sursock, April 2012
John Frederick Lewis (British, 1804-1876)

A Kibab Shop, Scutari, Asia Minor

Details
John Frederick Lewis (British, 1804-1876)
A Kibab Shop, Scutari, Asia Minor
pencil, black chalk, watercolour, bodycolour and pastel on paper
10 7/8 x 15½ in. (27.6 x 39.2 cm.)
Executed in 1840-41.
Provenance
with Eyre & Hobhouse, London.
Special notice

VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 20% on the buyer's premium.

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Alexandra McMorrow
Alexandra McMorrow

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Lot Essay

Lewis's year long stay in Istanbul in 1840-41 gave him his first prolonged experience of Islamic culture and society. His sketches of the mosques, bazaars and scenes of local life that he encountered are remarkable for their fluency and vitality. The example here is no exception, and it is among the very few that are closely related to an exhibited work. It is the study, probably made on the spot, for A Kibab Shop, Scutari, Asia Minor, painted in two equally worked up versions: an oil, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1858, and a watercolour, made at about the same time for sale to an unknown client.
The differences between the preliminary sketch and the final work reveal Lewis's remarkable powers of synthesis: he transforms a run-down kebab house and its adjacent café into a scene suffused with light and colour, in which complex spatial rhythms set up a dialogue with the viewer. The constructed 'reality' of the final composition is firmly grounded in direct observation. Here, in the sketch, are the two adjacent booths that form the structure of the later work. To right, the three bearded men wearing traditional Turkish dress, drink coffee and smoke pipes, their red slippers in the foreground adding bright touches of colour to the muted tones that evoke so well the murky interior of the shop. Also present, next door, is the older man whose engagment with the viewer becomes in the final work a more reflective absorption with his accounts. Accurately rendered functional details such as the large semi-circular hearth to the right and the two large metal cooking pots in stands and small corner hearth, in the left booth, are later translated into more anecdotal or decorative elements, possibly superimposed from elsewhere.

We would like to thank Briony Llewellyn and Charles Newton for their assistance in cataloguing this lot.

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