Tuesday's India sale achieved a world record for any auction held in India totaling INR 97,69,90,000 / US$14.7 million and selling 95% by lot. The top lot of the evening was Untitled, a 1995 oil by the modern master Vasudeo S. Gaitonde which soared above its pre-sale estimate to sell for INR 29,30,25,000 ($4,416,502), breaking the previous world auction record for the category, set by Christie's in September this year, and for the artist, set by Christie's at the inaugural India sale in 2013.
Strong results were also seen for works by Tyeb Mehta, Nasreen Mohamedi, Jehangir Sabavala and Maqbool Fida Husain, while a 10th century granite figure of a Dvarapala, which realised INR 1,70,25,000 ($256,567), led the classical art section that was 99% sold in total.
Furthermore, INR 36,07,500 ($54,473) was raised in our special Christie's for Chennai auction to benefit the victims of the recent Tamil Nadu floods.
For more information or to discuss buying and selling with Christie's, please do not hesitate to contact us.
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About the lot
Having studied at Kala Bhavan, Santiniketan, a school that was founded, nurtured and developed by the Tagores and Nandalal Bose, it goes without saying that the offerings from the Bengal School are the dearest to my heart. The lyricism flowing through the beautiful portraits by Abanindranath Tagore and the foggy Himalayan mountainscape of Gaganendranath Tagore make them jewels in the sale.
Paintings by VS Gaitonde have a special place at any auction, especially for us at Christie’s India. A work by the artist always reminds us of the nervousness and excitement we felt at our first auction when a painting by Gaitonde broke all records for Indian art. Now it’s two years later and we’ve begun to feel the same energy as we build up to the third India sale where we are extremely fortunate to include one of the most beautiful works by the artist to ever come up at auction.
This rare, early landscape by the artist, scholar and teacher, Gulam Mohammed Sheikh, draws equally on the artist’s deep knowledge of India’s miniature painting traditions and his vivid imagination. As with Sheikh’s later complex-narrative paintings, this magical landscape prompts multiple readings, including one that takes in the subtle eroticism of the painting’s undulating ridges, muted palette of flesh-tones and dramatic interplays of light and shadow.
Gaitonde’s paintings evade classification and present wonderful contradictions at each turn. They provide new readings with every viewing as the layers of colour and light bubble to the surface. The composition of these blocks of colour are arranged as if elements of a musical score, yet paradoxically the canvas resonates with silence.
As one of the few female artists working in India in the 1960s and 70s, Nasreen Mohamedi’s minimalist approach is a revelation. Her work doesn’t attempt to make grand statements about art, culture or nationalism, yet she makes one of the grandest statements of all: there are many voices in the history of modernity. Afflicted by Parkinson’s disease, Mohamedi became increasingly reclusive during the last years of her life. Despite her progressing illness, she ultimately achieved even greater clarity in her work. Drawing was her salvation, her raison d'etre and that kind of passion and commitment is hard to ignore.
One of the most important figures in Indian art – and one of my favourites – is that of Ganesha, the lovable and mischievous elephant-headed deity. Despite his plump figure and multiple arms, he is remarkably agile, as demonstrated by his dancing pose in the present example. As a dancer, Ganesha follows in the footsteps of his father, Shiva Nataraja, though his dance conveys a sense of quotidian joyful elegance instead of sweeping cosmic significance. This signature piece always brings a smile to my face, and is a must-have for any serious collection.
This is probably my favourite work amongst the paintings from the Collection of HH. Maharaja Karni Singh of Bikaner offered in the sale. The standing ladies are beautifully dressed and wear fabulous jewellery – the gold ear pendants are heavy, luxurious. You can lose yourself in the details of the saris, the floral carpet and even the niches on the marble wall decorated with blue vessels.
DATE & LOCATION
13 December 2015
Ballroom, The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel,
Mumbai 400 001
2pm: An Introduction to Watches
Speaker: Remi Guillemin, Junior Specialist, Watches, Dubai
2:30pm: Bikaner and Its Tradition of Court Painting
Speaker: William Robinson International Head of Group - World Art
3pm: A Guide to the Appreciation of Court Painting
Speaker: Romain Pingannaud Head of Department, Islamic Art, London
3:30pm: An Introduction to the Appreciation of Stone Sculpture
Speaker: Sandhya Jain-Patel Head of Department, Classical Indian & South East Asian Art, New York
4pm: In Conversation on Paintings of the Bengal School
Speaker: Professor Avijit Lahiri Physician and Collector and Deepanjana Klein PhD, International Head of Department, South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art, New York
4:45pm Light refreshments
There will be a 5 minute break between each lecture when tea and coffee will be served
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