Return of Indian masters at Sotheby`s

New Delhi: Masters of modern art are set to grab the limelight at Sotheby`s India Art Auction in London next week.

Twelve rare figurative compositions by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore painted in 1938, an untitled canvas of horses by Maqbool Fida Husain, a large-format 1956 composition of a pagoda by FN Souza and a 2004 self-portrait by Manjit Bawa are the highlights of the India Art Auction at Sotheby`s Bond Street Gallery June 15.

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

"The auction is extremely important because of the 12 rare paintings by Rabindranath Tagore that are on sale. The compositions, unlike the Nobel laureate`s doodles and etchings, are mature because he had gifted them to friend Leonard Elmhirst and his wife, the American heiress Whitney Elmhirst," Maithli Parekh, the country representative of Sotheby`s in India, said from Mumbai.

The works belonging to the Darlington Hall Trust are in fairly good condition, Parekh said.

"I checked the provenance and they were impeccable. The watercolours are signed `Rabindra` on the left side and dated `38`, Parekh said.

The compositions are in water colour, mixed media, ink and gouache on handmade paper.

The lot is priced between USD 4,600 and USD 61,500.

"Another art work that is stunning in its size and aesthetics is a large portrait, `Pagoda Head` by FN Souza. It was painted by Souza in 1956 at an important stage in his life," Parekh said.

The composition, priced USD 230,000, is a work of abstraction in thick black lines influenced by the artist`s fascination with monsters.

Horses are artist Husain`s leitmotif. An "Untitled" canvas of five galloping horses by Husain measuring 30 inches by 70 inches at the auction will go under the hammer for US for USD 460,000.

"He painted it in the late 60s at a crucial stage in life when his horses were becoming iconic," Parekh said.

Rajasthan, a 120 X 120 cm acrylic on canvas composition by SH 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, VS Gaitonde, Ram Kumar, Krishen Khanna and Bhupen Khakhar while the contemporary lots include canvases by Jitish Kallat, Riyas Komu, Subodh Gupta, TV 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.



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