Indian artist shines at Sotheby's

None | ByIndo-Asian News Service, London
May 24, 2006 12:17 PM IST

Painter Francis Souza's 'Amsterdam Landscape' went for $1.175 million at Sotheby's May auction.

Francis Newton Souza ruled the roost at Sotheby's May auction of The Indian Sale here with his "Amsterdam Landscape" going for $1.175 million to a private collector.

HT Image
HT Image

Sotheby's raked in a total of $7.96 million for artefacts as well as Indian contemporary art at its auction on Tuesday.

"Today's sale shows the market entering a new phase with evidence of a mounting appreciation and demand for important works by the top artists from an increasingly informed, discerning and expanding group of collectors," said Sotheby's head of sales Edward Gibbs.

The sale also demonstrated the growing strength of the Indian miniature painting market.

"A packed saleroom witnessed buoyant bidding with telephone bidders and clients from all over the world reflecting a truly international market," he added.

"We are particularly pleased with the result for 'Amsterdam Landscape' by Francis Newton Souza, published by Edwin Mullins in 1962, which brought 624,000 pounds - the second highest price achieved at auction for a work by the artist."

The large number of Souzas in the auction also spoke about the demand for the artist.

Souza's untitled Nude went for $584,980, almost double of what it was estimated at, while his chromatic rendition of "The Chance" went for $500,550.

Tyeb Mehta's "Trussed Bull" created in 1967 had a somewhat disappointing finality at $437,227.

A few Razas in the auction, too, had a lot of promise but it was his "Earth" that went for $331,690. However, the beauty, Raza's "Tejas", a work from his Shantibindu series that is soft ethereal and dulcet in its tone, went unsold.

Ram Kumar's landscape, a sombre hued stroked entity went down for $236,706. J. Swaminathan's brilliant evocation of "Udghosh" from the Bird, Mountain And Tree Series 1974, which was the crowning glory of the auction, went for an appreciable $395,012.

A host of Akbar Padamsees were also included in this auction, but his best was the untitled Metascape that went down for $521,657.

All Husain lovers know that it is works from the 1950s and 1960s that have been his hallmark best. Among a large number of Husains in the auction, a few were sterling works -- his "Blue Girl", a work of 1963 done in the old veiled mystic style, estimated at $112,00-150,000 went for a very disappointing $226,152.

His other works, too, did not fetch earlier rewards reflected at other auctions.

"Strangely there was no excitement at Husain's works, and the bids were too few and far from feverish. I think that the Bharat Mata incident has put off a number of NRIs," said a collector, who wished to remain anonymous.

However, Sotheby's officials were happy.

Head of sales Edward Gibbs and international head of modern and contemporary Indian paintings Zara Porter Hill said: "We are delighted with the results of today's sale which confirmed the underlying strength of the market for modern and contemporary Indian paintings, a collecting category that has experienced remarkable growth in recent years.

"The overall driver for this trend has been the growth of the Indian economy and a raised awareness of the important contribution of Indian artists in the 20th century."

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