South Asian Art Auction at Sotheby’s London June 15

On Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 Sotheby’s in London will bring to the market a first class array of works that track the course of Indian art: from classic Modern masterworks to cutting-edge Contemporary art. The sale is further distinguished by the rare group of works by Rabindranath Tagore from the collection of the Dartington Hall Trust in the South of England, an important selection of Modern and Contemporary art from Pakistan and a fine selection of paintings from the Company School. The 88 lots on offer have a combined estimate in the region of £2.7 million.

Sayed Haider Raza, Rajasthan, acrylic on canvas, est: £300,000-500,000. Photo: Sotheby’s

Sayed Haider Raza’s (b. 1922) spectacular Rajasthan leads the sale in terms of value, with an estimate of £300,000-500,000. Presented for sale by a private French collector, who acquired the sizeable work directly from the artist in 1981, Rajasthan dates from a time when Raza felt particularly drawn to his Indian cultural heritage. He visited India every year at this time and endeavoured to incorporate what he had learned during his time in France with Indian concepts. His famed Rajasthan series of paintings became a metaphor for the colours of India: of vibrant greens, vermilion, ochres and also blacks.

Another important painting by Raza, entitled January 24, dates from the 1960s. This early monochromatic work is one of the largest from Raza’s important transitional period, a period which followed his visit to the US in the 1960s, where he had contact with the New York School of painters and exposure, for the first time, to Abstract Expressionism. January 24 carries an estimate of £300,000-500,000.

An extremely rare and monumental sculpture by Somnath Hore:
In addition to the exceptional group of works by Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) from the Dartington Hall Trust, an extremely rare and monumental bronze sculpture by Somnath Hore (b. 1921), entitled The Khajani Player, will also form part of an important group of Bengali works in the sale. Hore’s bronzes are not concerned with a narrative nor an accurate representation of his subjects but with the depiction of the plight of man. Hore produced 176 bronzes during his lifetime but only four were on the scale of The Khajani Player, which measures 125 cm in height. Not only is this sculpture one of Hore’s largest, it is also unlike the majority of his bronzes in that the figure is shown in play rather than turmoil; the outstretched arms of the musician being a symbol of hope rather than suffering. The rare sculpture has an estimate of £130,000-150,000 and it certainly ranks among the most important works by the artist ever to appear at auction.

Sayed Haider Raza’s (b. 1922) spectacular Rajasthan leads the sale in terms of value, with an estimate of £300,000-500,000. Presented for sale by a private French collector, who acquired the sizeable work directly from the artist in 1981, Rajasthan dates from a time when Raza felt particularly drawn to his Indian cultural heritage. He visited India every year at this time and endeavoured to incorporate what he had learned during his time in France with Indian concepts. His famed Rajasthan series of paintings became a metaphor for the colours of India: of vibrant greens, vermilion, ochres and also blacks.

Another important painting by Raza, entitled January 24, dates from the 1960s. This early monochromatic work is one of the largest from Raza’s important transitional period, a period which followed his visit to the US in the 1960s, where he had contact with the New York School of painters and exposure, for the first time, to Abstract Expressionism. January 24 carries an estimate of £300,000-500,000.

Further Sikh highlights:
Further Sikh highlights in the sale include an important album of 53 watercolours depicting trades and occupations in Jalandhar, Punjab. The album, which dates to 1860, comes to the market from a private Canadian collection and with an estimate of £15,000-20,000.

A portrait by the British artist George Landseer (1829-1878) also features within the Sikh group given its subject matter of H.H. The Maharaja of Pattiala. This portrait, is estimated at £25,000-35,000. Two further scenes by Landseer depict Rewah Horsemen and the Mahomeden Temple at Bissasir Ghat and all three works by him are being sold by a private US collector.

Two early works by Francis Newton Souza:
Two early works by Francis Newton Souza (1924-2002) include a large painting from 1956 entitled Pagoda Head and an impressive nude from the previous year. Pagoda Head, estimated at £150,000-200,000, features the distinctive thick black lines enclosing glowing colour that were so typical of Souza’s work during the 1950s. Souza painted the female nude in many forms throughout his life. At the start of his career his figurative works appear to have been influenced by South Indian bronzes and the voluptuous forms of classical Indian temple carving but on his move to London he increasingly absorbed more European influences. The nude presented for sale was exhibited at Souza’s first solo exhibition at Gallery One in 1955, where it was purchased by the current owner. It now comes to the market with superb provenance and an estimate of £60,000-80,000.

Avinash Chandra:
An Untitled work by Avinash Chandra (1931-1991) is estimated at £50,000-70,000. This striking painting of monumental proportions – it measures 185.5 by 277cm – has been in the same private collection since 1963, a period of almost half a century.

An exquisite group of art from Pakistan:
An exquisite group of art from Pakistan includes a large scale, colourful figurative work from 1974 by Bashir Mirza (1941-2000) as well as a number of oils and drawings by Sadequain (1930-1987). Bashir Mirza visited Europe between 1969 and 1970, where he was exposed to and inspired by Western art and techniques. When he subsequently returned to Pakistan he abandoned the abstract style of painting that he had followed in the mid 1960s, moving towards a more figurative form of art. The figurative work on sale (measuring 86.5 by 324 cm) has an estimate of £80,000-120,000. Waseem Ahmed (b. 1976) and Saira Wasim (b. 1975) – two of the stars of Pakistan’s Contemporary Art scene -also form part of the Pakistani group. Burqa Series 3 by Ahmed is estimated at £3,000-4,000 while Wasim’s Silent-Heart is expected to bring £6,000-8,000.

Indian Contemporary Art:
The sale will also offer an exciting selection of works by the Indian Contemporary artists Subodh Gupta (b. 1964), Jitish Kallat (b. 1974), Riyas Komu (b. 1971), T.V. Santhosh (b. 1968), Debanjan Roy (b. 1975) and Anita Dube (b. 1958). An Untitled canvas by Gupta leads the Contemporary group in terms of value and the work depicts a theme that has transfixed so much of his work: the movement of migrant workers from India to the Middle East and South East Asia in promise of a brighter future, only to return with trolleys of carefully wrapped bundles of possessions and foreign paraphemalia. The canvas has an estimate of £150,000-180,000.

The Polier Album:
Finally, among the miniature paintings presented for sale is a folio from the Polier Album, which is estimated at £4,000-6,000. Antoine Louis Henri Polier was born in Switzerland in 1741 and began his career as a surveyor in the East India Company in 1758. By 1762 he had become Chief Engineer of the Bengal Army in Calcutta and Chief Architect for the kingdom of Oudh. During his time in India, Polier collected a number of Persian and Sanskrit manuscripts and miniatures.

Top