annual sale of Indian Art in London, which took place yesterday, realised a total of £2,067,400 / US$3,376,684, a sum in excess of pre-sale expectations (the pre-sale estimate for the sale was £1,193,500-1,754,000). The sale - which brought to the market a fine assortment of works by leading Modern and Contemporary Indian artists as well as rare and important Indian Miniatures - was 69% sold-by-lot and 88% sold-by-value and established a new auction record for the Bengali artist Jogen Chowdhury as well as a new auction record for a work on paper by a Post-Independence Indian artist. Francis Newton Souzas Orange Head and Jogen Chowdhurys Day Dreaming sparked the most spirited bidding-battles of the day and were the top-selling lots of the sale.
Commenting after the sale, Zara Porter-Hill, Director and Head of Indian Art at Sothebys, said: By choosing desirable works by leading artists at appropriate pricing levels, we assembled a sale that we knew would appeal to buyers in the current market, and the competitive and lively bidding that we witnessed throughout the sale, principally from private collectors, ratified our strategy. Many exciting results were seen today sending a very positive and encouraging message to this market. We were particularly thrilled to have had the privilege of bringing the Jogen Chowdhury to auction this summer; its such a rare painting of exceptional quality and the price it achieved today is testament to this. We are also delighted that our top-selling Souza achieved the highest price of the summer auction series of Indian Art at any auction house.
Among the notable highlights of todays sale were:
Orange Head by Francis Newton Souza
Orange Head by Francis Newton Souza (lot 62) saw strong competition from a number of buyers before selling to a US Private Collector for £403,250 / $658,628 more than three times the presale high estimate (est: £80,000-120,000). This price represents the highest price of the summer auction series of Indian Art at any auction house.
Day Dreaming by Jogen Chowdhury
Jogen Chowdhurys ink and pastel composition Day Dreaming (lot 59) graced the cover of the sale catalogue and was greatly admired during its pre-sale exhibition. Having never before appeared at auction and indicative of its desirability, the work was the subject of a heated bidding-battle between multiple bidders, which resulted in the price soaring well above the pre-sale estimate of £80,000-120,000. The picture was eventually purchased by a US Private Collector for £373,250 / US$609,629, establishing a new record for the artist at auction by a significant margin (almost double the previous auction record for the artist of US$324,114) and also a new auction record for a work on paper by a Post-Independence Indian artist. The work, which highlights the artists graceful and distinctive style of fluid lines and simple forms defined by crosshatching, was exhibited at the Sao Paulo Biennale in 1979 the year it was executed and it is one of the largest works of its kind by Chowdhury to ever come to the market.
Untitled by Manjit Bawa
An Untitled painting by Manjit Bawa, which featured on the front cover of the first ever issue of Art India in 1996, sold to an Indian Private Collector for £85,250 / $139,239, handsomely within presale expectations (pre-sale estimate was £70,000-100,000). The painting was previously offered in the sale of Contemporary Indian Paintings from the Chester and Davida Herwitz Charitable Trust at Sothebys New York in 1996.
Maqbool Fida Husain
Works by Maqbool Fida Husain were also highly sought-after today with five of the seven works offered achieving prices in excess of their pre-sale high estimates. The solid results highlight the particularly strong demand for Husain works from the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s.