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The Savara Foundation for the Arts and Matra Ashraya:
A Home and Collection Museum
“Good paintings are more satisfying companions than the best of books and infnitely more so than most very nice people. I can talk, without speaking, to Cézanne, Prendergast, Daumier, Renoir, and they talk to me in kind. I
can criticise them and take, without ofense, the refutation which comes silently but powerfully when I learn, months later, what they mean and not what I thought they meant. That is one of the joys of a collection, the elasticity with which paintings stretch to the beholder’s personal vision which they progressively develop. And that is universal, for a painting is justly proportionate to what a man thinks he sees in it. As a substitute for other pursuits, collecting, living with, and studying good paintings – the enthusiast believes – ofers greater interest, variety, and satisfaction than any other pleasure or work a man could select […].
A man with a house full of good paintings needs no subterfuge of excessive heat or cold to drive him north or south to get away from his own wearying self. Golf, dances, theaters, dinners, traveling, get a set-back as worthy diversions when rabies or pursuit of quality in painting, and its enjoyment, gets into a man’s system. And when he has surrounded himself with that quality, bought with his blood, he is a King.” – Dr. Albert C. Barnes.
These words by the legendary collector Dr. Albert C. Barnes (1871-1952), founder of The Barnes Foundation, which is the repository of perhaps the fnest private collection of post-impressionist and early-modern American and European art in the world, and the collecting habits of Paul Mellon, Jr. (1907- 1999) are the inspirations behind the Roohi & Rajiv Savara Family Collection.
The Savaras began collecting in the 1990s, beginning with Japanese Meiji Period art, then 19th Century Indo-Portuguese and Anglo-Indian furniture before turning toward Pre-Modern and Modern Indian art. Reclusive by nature, they are among the most passionate, intellectually curious and ambitious collectors of Indian art in the world. Their collection includes some of the most exceptional works by leading artists including Raja Ravi Varma, the three Tagores, Somnath Hore and Ganesh Pyne. The collection holds formative works by members of the Progressive Artists’ Group, including Maqbool Fida Husain, Francis Newton Souza, Syed Haider Raza and Ram Kumar. The focus is on creating a detailed trajectory of the artists’ careers, building around their most signifcant phases.
Above all, the Savaras have a defnitive collection of works by the leading abstract painter, Vasudeo S. Gaitonde. With singular focus and as a result of research and scholarship, the Savaras have acquired the most exceptional and rare works by the artist, which hang beautifully in their home in New Delhi. Their interest in Japanese culture, history and aesthetics can be seen as the inspiration or the spark that ignited their interest in the works of Gaitonde, whose study of Zen Buddhism is refected in his paintings.
The Savara brothers, Rahul and Rajiv, and his wife Roohi have established The Savara Foundation for the Arts (SFA) to serve as a repository for their iconic collection of Pre-Modern and Modern Indian art, Japanese Meiji art and 19th Century furniture. The SFA is being chartered as a not-for-proft organisation with a focus on the preservation and appreciation of Pre-Modern and Modern Indian Art, through research, documentation and scholarship. The SFA strives towards the advancement of education through stimulating, engaging and innovative outreach programs and grants, to enrich, develop and foster a dialogue between the art of the past and future generations. The Foundation has also been instrumental in sponsoring major international exhibitions including Rhythms of India: The Art of Nandalal Bose (1882-1966) at the San Diego Museum of Art, 2008 and thereafter, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, as well as Rabindranath Tagore: The Last Harvest at the Asia Society Museum, New York, 2011.
In the early 20th Century, collectors amassed art, in order to create museums of their own that preserved not only objects but also an individual’s vision
of how art should be experienced. All across Europe and the United States, Collection Museums like the Wallace Collection in London, the Musee Conde near Paris, the Gardner Museum in Boston, The Frick Collection in New
York, The Barnes Collection in Philadelphia have been maintained, more or less, as they had originally been installed by individual collectors. Each such Collection Museum is unique, serving as a monument to an individual founder or founding couple, memorialising their personal taste in art.
A close look at these Collection Museums reveal that the collectors commissioned and installed their homes after they had decided to found public institutions. They were designing homes for their respective collections rather than for themselves. Calculated efects of domesticity were intended to recreate the context in which the art had originally been made and to provide future audiences with an intimate experience of art. These museums ofered special opportunities for self-representation because they reconciled the supposedly opposite values of the private and the public. At once, private homes became public institutions.
It was our very frst visit to the Fondation Beyeler in Basel in 2002 that the seeds of the dream of creating a living place where works of art, in our then just growing collection could be enjoyed, were sown. Over the years, visits to The Philips Collection in Washington DC, Museum Rietberg in Zurich and The Barnes Collection in Merion, Philadelphia turned this into a resolve wherein we desired, in a modest way, to use the inspiration we had had from beautiful interiors, houses of leisured elegance, and to combine it with the joy we had jointly felt in individual works seen in museums and with the all-embracing delight we had experienced in nature, in stones, in fowers, in people.
– Statement from the Savaras
It is our privilege to handle this masterpiece by Gaitonde from 1958, from the Savara Family Collection. This painting is one of the largest examples of Giatonde’s transition to non-objective painting. This is a rare occasion to acquire such an exceptional painting with impeccable provenance, frst belonging to Gaitonde’s frst American patron. Part of the proceeds of the sale of this painting will be used toward the Museum Collection and realising the vision of the SFA to share the Savara Family Collection and their passion for the visual arts. We can anticipate that Matra Ashraya will serve as an inspiration to the next generation of collectors.
PROPERTY FROM THE SAVARA FAMILY COLLECTION:
PART OF THE PROCEEDS TO BENEFIT THE SAVARA FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS