It’s time for Mumbai’s art event of the year. International auction house Christie’s will hold its fourth annual live auction at the Taj Mahal Palace on December 18, with preview exhibitions beginning mid-week.
This time, nearly half the 150 lots on the block will be antiquities, including miniature paintings and sculptures, some with prices as low as Rs 4 lakh.
The rest will be highly prized — and priced — modern and contemporary art works, including the works by SH Raza and Tyeb Mehta gleaned from personal collections, These are typically works that are rarely, and only briefly, up for grabs.
If you’d like to see some of these gems, you can head to the Taj hotel between Thursday and Saturday, where a preview exhibition is free and open to all.
Among the works you can expect to see there is the highest priced item this year — an untitled oil-on-canvas Tyeb Mehta, dated 1975 and expected to fetch between Rs 10 crore and Rs 15 crore.
Also on display will be masterful miniature paintings priced at Rs 4 lakh to Rs 6 lakh each, including a miniature-style portrait of Maharaja Shri Naryan Ji from Jira in Rajasthan.
“The mix is a conscious effort to cater to lower budgets as we want smaller collectors to come in and participate in the auction and not be intimidated,” says Sonal Singh, specialist head, India, for Christie’s. “Moreover, India has a wide variety of art and selling only high-valued works doesn’t complete the story.”
Individual collectors, incidentally, will be a big part of that story this year.
“We have found that buyers in India are keen on narrative. They want to buy a piece of history, and the stories of the art works from private collections add to that,” Singh says.
For instance, many of the antiquities on the block are from the collection of the late Col RK Tandan, son of the renowned art critic RC Tandan.
These include four folios from the Raagmala Basholi manuscript. These Pahari art works from the Basholi kingdom of Jammu & Kashmir are known for their use of primary colours and faces with receding foreheads. The most expensive of the four is expected to fetch Rs 70 lakh to Rs 1 crore.
In the contemporary art section, 41 items come from the collection of Abhishek and Radhika Poddar, founders of the Tasveer Art Gallery — including a bronze sculpture by Meera Mukherjee titled People in a Row, expected to fetch about Rs 60 lakh.
Stay tuned for more as the exhibition opens and the works go under the hammer.