Untitled (Still Life)

Untitled (Still Life)
signed 'ARA' (lower centre); further inscribed 'old Still Life' (on the reverse); signed 'ARA' (lower left); further inscribed, signed and dated 'To My dear Lalita with best wishes Ara 1964' (on the reverse)
gouache on paper; watercolour and ink on paper
19¼ x 28½ in. (48.9 x 72.4 cm.); 29½ x 19½ in. (74.9 x 49.5 cm.)
Executed circa 1960s, 1964 Two works on paper
Gift of the artist

Brought to you by

Umah Jacob
Umah Jacob

Lot Essay

Mr. Ara knew my elder brother Atmaram, as he and his friend had made a documentary on the Progressive Artists' Group at the Artists' Centre in Bombay many years ago. Unfortunately today that film, which would have had great historical value and been a collector's item, is lost.

Ara became a close family friend, and frequently dropped in to our home late in the evenings and joined us for dinner when we lived in Colaba. He would tell me to do a lot of drawings and paint all the time. On his advice, I joined Saturday classes at the Artists Centre, and also often joined him at the home of his favourite art collector, Mr. Rudi von Leyden, where I painted a landscape from the window and worked on a nude study too.

My eldest brother Gurudutt owned a small farm in Lonavala outside Bombay, and Ara, my cousin Shyam Benegal and I used to go there over weekends, where I painted many landscapes under his watchful eye. He kept telling me use large oil brushes to get a boldness in the work, even though I was using watercolours. It was Ara who booked my first exhibition at Jehangir Art Gallery in Bombay in 1961 and gave me his frames to use for the show, in addition to arranging for a Chief Guest.

The first painting of a brown and red flower pot was gifted to me by the artist on the occasion of my wedding. When I had my first teaching job I wanted to buy another painting by Ara, which he was selling for 100 rupees each then. Even though he was having financial problems, he refused to sell anything to me and gifted the lovely still-life of the black fish and a half melon to my daughter Kalpana instead. Such was his generosity and greatness.

- Lalitha Lajmi

More from The India Sale

View All
View All