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Souza dominates Sotheby's May auction

The Sotheby's Indian art sale saw some of the vintage works bringing in exciting results.

india Updated: May 26, 2006 12:23 IST
Uma Nair
Uma Nair

The spring auctions with a bang last month as Sotheby's sold more than $128 million (£69 million) worth of contemporary and post-war art, the highest total in its history.

With its March Sotheby's New York Indian Art auction, Tyeb Mehta's work went under the hammer for $1,248,000 while Raza's Tapovan soared to a scorching $1,472,000 and toppled estimates.

Now, Sotheby's Indian art sale with a few vintage works brought in exciting results.

FN Souza's "Amsterdam Landscape"

Before the auction of the Indian Sale at Sotheby's Zara Porter Hill, director of the Indian and South-East Asian department at Sotheby's, said: "Indian art is primarily bought by Indians or people with connections to India, but it is now being recognised on an international level."

"Modern Indian art has gone up in value by between 70 per cent and 80 per cent over the past five years. I know of one particular painting by Francis Newton Souza that sold for £1,000 in 2000 and recently resold for £100,000."

At its Indian Sale auction in London, Francis Newton Souza ruled the roost at Sotheby's as his "Amsterdam Landscape" hit a high of £624,000 ($1,175,990) as it went to a private collector. Sotheby's raked in a total of £4,224,120 ($7,960,777), for artifacts as well as Indian contemporary art.

"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 Sale 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 – the second highest price achieved at auction for a work by the artist."

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

Ram Kumar's artwork

Miss Porter Hill described Lot 135, Amsterdam Landscape by Newton Souza, as a work of museum quality. "The Chance", also by Newton Souza, were expected to fetch up to £200,000.

However, among landscapes it was his sienna-toned rendition of "Amsterdam Landscape" replete with architectonic features and 'cubic factors' estimated at £60,000—80,000 that finally went to the hammer for a fabulous £624,000 ($1,175,990).

Souza's untitled Nude which was estimated at £100,000—150,000 also hit a high and went for £310,400 ($584,980). while his chromatic rendition of "The Chance" estimated at £150,000—200,000 went for for £265,600 ($500,550).

Tyeb Mehta's "Trussed Bull" created in 1967, a work that was estimated at £150,000—250,000 went for an appreciable £232,000 ($437,227),but that figure just about lay within the higher estimate.

Raza's two works that were favourites had opposite results.

His "Earth" estimated at £150,000—200,000 went for £176,000 ($331,690), but his most wonderful work in the sale "Tejas Bindu 2003 - a work from his Shantibindu series that is soft ethereal and dulcet in its tone, and was estimated at £50,000—70,000 went unsold.

Ram Kumar's "Oil", a landscape which had a somber hued stroked entity estimated at £30,000—40,000 went for £125,600 ($236,706).

First Published: May 25, 2006 13:32 IST