Young art lovers and collectors new to the game gathered at Saffronart’s new studio in Prabhadevi on Thursday, bidding on and taking home all but two of the 85 FN Souza lots on the block.
The highest bids, as expected, came in for Peasants in Goa, a work on paper that sold for Rs24 lakh. Bidding for this lot started at Rs9.50 lakh and saw exciting rounds of bidding and counter-bidding.
Prices included both hammer prices as well as buyers premium and taxes.
In addition to more than 200 works on paper, photographs and pages from Souza’s personal scrapbook were also on the block.
The Goa-born Francis Newton Souza was a modernist, a founding member of the Progressive Artists’ Group of Bombay and among the first Indian artists to be acclaimed internationally. He died in Mumbai in 2002. His works have consistently set and broken records for the highest sums fetched by an Indian artist.
The lots that went under the hammer at the Saffronart auction included paintings from Souza’s time in Mumbai as a young man, and from his later years in London and New York.
Among the lots was one that offered a rare glimpse into Souza’s personal life — A Set of Three Pages from FN Souza’s personal scrapbook, that sold for a total price of Rs10.80 lakh.
One of the pages shows a series of thumbnail mugshots of Souza, straight-faced in most and smiling in the last, as a reaction to Barbara Zinkant’s having accepted his marriage proposal, in 1964.
The auction, tiled FN Souza: A Life in Line, was held as part of Saffronart’s India Art Week 2015. Next on the calendar is an auction of classical Indian art, to be held on Monday.
“The reception to Thursday’s live auction was fantastic,” said Hugo Weihe, CEO of Saffronart. “As expected, it was a great opportunity for younger and newer art enthusiasts to purchase wonderful art at relatively affordable prices.”
Saffronart co-founder Dinesh Vazirani, who conducted the auction, said it was encouraging to see international bidders as well. “With only two lots left unsold, it’s been a huge success,” he said.