Sotheby's sale of 'On the Banks of the Nile' sets record for Egyptian sculptor Mahmoud Mokhtar

Ahram Online , Friday 22 Apr 2016

The sculpture dates from 1921 and was sold for £725,000 at Sotheby's in London

Mahmoud Mokhtar
Fragment of On the Banks of the Nile by Mahmoud Mokhtar (Photo: courtesy of Sotheby’s London)

The sculpture "On the Banks of the Nile" by Egyptian sculptor Mahmoud Mokhtar was sold for £725,000 at Sotheby's auction house in London this week. 

Created in 1921, the sculpture represents an Egyptian peasant woman, the emblem of Egypt’s nationalist movement, who stands tall, poised to adjust her veil, revealing her feminine beauty whilst carrying out the menial but essential task of sourcing water from the Nile.

The sculpture had been estimated to sell for £120,000 - £180,000 by the auction house; the final price is a record sale for the artist. 

Another work by Mokhtar bearing the same title (On the Banks of the Nile) and representing another peasant woman in a different pose carrying a water jar, was sold in December 2015 at auction. It had been estimated to reach £30,000 -- £40,000 but sold for £317,000, also becoming the star piece of the auction.

Born on 10 May 1891, Mokhtar grew up in a small village near Mahalla, where his father served as the omda, or mayor. He moved to Cairo to pursue artistic studies and was among the first to study sculpture at Cairo University's fine arts faculty.

He later continued his academic work, supported by Prince Kamal Youssef, at Paris' Ecole des Beaux Arts.

Mokhtar went on to become one of contemporary Egypt's most celebrated sculptors. In1962, the culture ministry opened a museum in Cairo bearing his name and displaying many of his works.

Mokhtar's other iconic sculptures include a statue of Egyptian nationalist Saad Zaghloul and an image from the Egyptian revolution; the first located in front of Cairo's Qasr Al-Nil Bridge and the second in the coastal city of Alexandria. 

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