Mahmoud Saïd is one of the founders of modern Egyptian art and the announcement that one of his most famous paintings is coming to auction in April has caused widespread interest among art collectors and academics.
Saïd’s sensual, often controversial, Adam and Eve was painted in 1937 and depicts the biblical couple against the backdrop of a desert oasis, complete with palm trees and a curving water course.
Inspired by the greats
Heavy with erotic symbolism, the picture will be one of the highlights of Sotheby’s 20th Century Art/Middle East auction on 24 April and will be offered with an estimate of £300,000-500,000.
Saïd studied the work of European masters such as Lucas Cranach, Peter Paul Rubens and Paul Cezanne, using their inspiration to capture what he termed the ‘magical light’ of an Egyptian consciousness.
The painting depicts Adam and Eve as two halves of humanity, symbolising the relationship between men, women and their environment. The artists emphasises the feminine grace of Eve – placing Adam in the supportive role.
Ashkan Baghestani, Sotheby’s contemporary Arab and Iranian art specialist, said: ‘Seminal in its subject matter and the sheer force of painting, Mahmoud Saïd’s unique depiction of Adam and Eve is one of the most important works by the artist to ever appear at auction.
‘The painting embodies so many spheres of influence – from the works of Egyptian antiquity to the grand style of the European Old Masters and his own glorious depictions of the lush landscape of the Nile. Having remained unseen for a quarter of a century, we are thrilled to be bringing this glorious work to auction this April.’
Sotheby’s 20th Century Art/Middle East sale is at the firm’s London premises on 24 April 2018.