Rare Tagore paintings fetch 1.6 mn pounds

Spicezee Bureau

London: Twelve rare figurative compositions by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore painted in 1938 were auctioned at a whopping 1.6 million pounds on Tuesday.

The identity of the buyers is still not known, however reports have revealed that there was a Bangladeshi national among the buyers of these rare paintings.

The 12 art works of the Indian Nobel Laureate massively exceeded the pre-sale combined estimate of 250,000 pounds at a Sotheby`s auction.

One of the paintings, an untitled portrait of a woman fetched as much as 313,250 pounds, a Sotheby`s spokesperson said.

The news of the auction last month had led some art lovers and politicians in India to seek intervention by the Indian government. They said the paintings were national heritage and should be brought back to the country.

West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee wrote a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, asking him to take steps to bring the paintings back home.

Culture Ministry officials in New Delhi were tight-lipped over what role the Indian government would assume at the auction, but some officials made it clear that the government cannot officially bid for the paintings.

The sale of the Tagore paintings were the highlight of Sotheby`s annual Indian art sale today.

The art works have been housed in the Dartington Hall Trust in Devon for 71 years, since the time Tagore gifted them to his friends -- Leonard and Dorothy Elmhirst -- of Dartington Hall who have now decided to sell them.

Tagore painted some 2,000 works in the later phase of his life, 1,500 of which are housed in Shantiniketan.

Sotheby`s described the paintings as a once-in-a- lifetime opportunity to acquire this standout collection by the national poet.

Besides Tagore, an untitled canvas of horses by Maqbool Fida Husain, a large-format 1956 composition of a pagoda by F.N. Souza and a 2004 self-portrait by Manjit Bawa were the highlights of the India Art Auction at Sotheby`s Bond Street Gallery.

The masters are ruling the lots, the country representative of Sotheby`s said.

Rajasthan, a 120 X 120 cm acrylic on canvas composition by S.H. Raza painted in 1981, and one of the "few realistic self-portraits" by Manjit Bawa dated 1984 are likely to draw bidders` attention at the auction.

"A four-feet sculpture by Somnath Hore `Khajani Player` in 2004, the largest ever sculpted by the Bengal master is another important auction exhibit," Parekh said.

The modern art section also flaunts works by Jagdish Swaminathan, Jogen Chowdhury, V.S. Gaitonde, Ram Kumar, Krishen Khanna and Bhupen Khakhar while the contemporary lots include canvases by Jitish Kallat, Riyas Komu, Subodh Gupta, T.V. Santhosh and Anita Dube.

In the heritage section, 18 illustrations of deities in watercolour and oil from the Hindu Dutch Bengal School painted between 1830-50 are of interest to collectors.

-Agencies inputs


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