Indian art brings in highest total for Sotheby’s

New York, September 20 :

Sotheby’s first sale of Indian art, that included miniatures and modern paintings, brought in a total of $14.8 million, the highest total ever. “This is the highest total ever for a Sotheby’s sale,” said Sotheby’s. Three works sold for more than $1 million.

At Sotheby’s, F N Souza’s ‘Man with Monstrance’, 1953, sold for $13.6 million, almost twice its high estimate (estabished $500/700,000) to a private Singaporean collector in the room in a sale of Indian art including miniatures and modern paintings. At least five bidders competed for the painting, the cover lot of the sale.

The auction, which featured a superb selection of modern Indian paintings by leading modern artists such as F N Souza, Ram Kumar, M F Husain, Tyeb Mehta, S H Raza, J Swaminathan and V S Gaitonde, totalled $14.8 million, far exceeding the pre-sale estimate of $8.6/12.2 million.

A further sale of Indian contemporary art will be held on September 22, the first of its kind at Sotheby’s.

Zara Porter Hill, director and head of Sotheby’s Indian and Southeast Asian department, said, “Today’s sale of Indian Art was Sotheby’s highest total ever in this category. The strength of our March Indian Art results allowed us to assemble a group of properties, which encouraged vigorous competition and resulted in 70 per cent of all lots selling for over the high estimates.”

She added, “The department is pleased to note that the sale attracted crossover buying and bidding from other Asian collecting categories. These results bode well for our upcoming inaugural sale of Indian contemporary art on Friday, September 22. We also witnessed ongoing strength and breadth of buying in the Indian miniature market.”

Other top lots included in the section of Modern Paintings were Tyeb Mehta’s vibrant untitled work from his “Falling Figures” series, which sold for $1.2 million (est. $750,000/1 million) to an anonymous buyer, and V S Gaitonde’s untitled work, which was purchased for $1.1 million by a Japanese private collector (est. $700/900,000).

M F Husain’s untitled canvas from the early 1960s symbolically juxtaposes two women with a lamp, a symbol frequently found in Husain’s works; the painting sold for $486,400 (est. $220/280,000) to an Indian private collector.

Ram Kumar’s rare untitled work, belonging to the artist’s early figurative phase, from 1956 achieved $452,800 (est. $120/180,000). The 21 lots of Indian miniatures from a German private single-owner collection soared, often bringing multiple times over their high estimates. The miniatures, from the Punjab Hills schools, featured a group of 20 illustrations from a “Devi” series, which sold for $262,400.