The sale on March 30 featured Saleeby’s study of Bernadino Luini’s 16th century painting of Salome holding a silver platter, which in the original contains the severed head of John the Baptist. The 2ft 5in x 23in (73 x 59cm) oil on canvas, dated 1901, had resided in a Staffordshire estate for many years.
Saleeby spent his formative years as a painter in Europe and the US, training under John Singer Sargent in Edinburgh and Augustus Renoir in Paris. On his return to Beirut at the turn of the 20th century, he opened an atelier where he built a reputation as a social portraitist. He was later murdered in 1928 at the foot of Mount Lebanon along with his wife following a dispute over water rights.
Although his work also covers landscapes, architectural interiors, self-portraits and figural works, few, if any, Old Master studies by the artist are known. The vibrant Lebanese art market coupled with a growing appreciation for Saleeby’s work ensured competition on the day and it sold above its £400-600 guide to the London trade at £7000.