A private collection of 46 Orientalist works opened the July 13 sale in King Street, contributing £1.67m to the overall £3.91m total. Among the 35 lots from the collection to get away was At Prayer, a meditative and boldly coloured work by the revered Austrian Orientalist, Ludwig Deutsch (1855-1935).
Executed in 1923, it was a good example of the artist’s less commercial later work, and sold for a mid-estimate £500,000 – the sale’s highest price. The result makes it among the most expensive of Deutsch’s mature canvases.
Attracting the strongest competition from the group was a 14 x 20in (35 x 51cm) watercolour of the Holy Rock in Jerusalem by Carl Frederich Heinrich Werner (1808-94). It had last sold for £5500 in 1986 at Christie’s in London. Three decades on, it more than tripled its guide to sell for £170,000. Werner, who visited Palestine from 1862-64, attempted to paint the famous rock as accurately as possible in his watercolour.
Christie’s Clare Keiller said the high price was due to a variety of factors. “It is a very good-quality work by this artist and the subject matter is very rare since it depicts the interior of a religious building. We don’t know if he was allowed inside, or if he painted the work from photographs.”
Sacred to both Muslims and Jews, the Holy Rock is located at the centre of the Dome of the Rock, and is the place where, according to Islamic belief, the Prophet Muhammad ascended into heaven on his horse Buraq. In Jewish tradition, it is the site where Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac.