NEW DELHI: A rare self portrait of modernist painter Amrita Sher-Gil created in 1931 sold for around Rs 17 crore in London at an auction by international auction house Sotheby’s, which posted sales of around Rs 49 crore.
“The Modern and Contemporary South Asia Art auction, which was part of the Indian Art Week in London set new records for four artists, including Gagendranath Tagore, Prodosh Das Gupta, Gieve Patel and Nasreen Mohamedi,” auctioneers said today.
Sher-Gil is considered among the most important Indian painters of the 20th century. With 95 of the 174 documented works created over the course of her brief career (Sher-Gil died in 1941 aged 28) held in the collection of the National Gallery of Modern Art, few works ever appear at auction.
Like her Mexican peer Frida Kahlo, with whom she shares Hungarian heritage, Sher-Gil was a rebellious and adventurous spirit who broke barriers in art and life.
Earlier in March, at Sotheby’s auction in New York, another rare untitled self-portrait by Sher-Gil sold for around Rs 29 crore, establishing a new record for Indian woman artist.
‘One of Sher-Gil’s most romantic works’
Yamini Mehta, International Head of Modern Contemporary South Asian Art at Sotheby’s said, “...As a National Treasure in India, it is rare for any work by the artist to appear at auction....This is one of her most romantic works as it was presented to her fellow artist and lover, Boris Taslitzky and has been in the hands of his family until now.”
“Off Lamington Road” by the Mumbai-born Gieve Patel, a poet and a playwright as well as a painter and practicing physician, sold for Rs 1.5 crore, well in excess of the press sale estimate of around Rs 30 to 50 lakh.
A new benchmark was also set for contemporary artist Nasreen Mohamedi, when his untitled work sold for over Rs 93 lakh, around five-times higher than was estimated to sell.
M F Husain’s work fetches over Rs 7 crore
A 1964 work by M F Husain titled “The Sixth Seal” that builds on the themes of his celebrated opus “Zameen” and depicts vignettes of ancient Indian sculpture, miniature painting, dance and folk art fetched over Rs 7 crore.
Among the top 10 lots sold included Jogen Chowdhury’s painting of a couple, which went for around Rs 2.2 crore, Jehangir Sabavala’s “The Intangible Menace”, fetched around Rs 1.2 crore while Ram Kumar’s landscape sold for around Rs 1.1 crore. F N Souza’s “Death and the Maiden” fetched around Rs 1 crore, while SH Raza’s work sold for around Rs 94 lakh.
“The sale had the right alchemy of fresh to market works at attractive estimates. We are thrilled to see such strong prices for masters Sher-Gil, Husain, Sabavala and Chowdhury with robust competition for the works from both established and new collectors,” Mehta said.
Earlier, a collection of miniature Indian paintings from the Sven Gahlin Collection fetched a total of around Rs 46 crore.
Both the Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art sale and The Sven Gahlin Collection featured as part of Sotheby’s Indian Art Week in London.