Sotheby`s to auction portrait of Nana Phadnavis

New Delhi: An 18th century portrait of one of the most important Indian historical statesmen, Nana Phadnavis, will be auctioned by Sotheby`s in London, the auction house said.

The portrait, made by British East India company artist John Thomas Seaton, will be auctioned July 7 at the auction house`s Old Master and British Drawing sale, Sotheby`s announced Wednesday evening.

The painting is estimated at 70,000 pounds.

Officials at Sotheby`s said the "striking" portrait of Phadnavis, was a "fascinating historical record and an exciting new discovery".

Emmeline Hallmark, head of Sotheby`s British paintings department, said the portrait was discovered by chance.

"Nana Phadnavis (1742-1800) was a leading minister of the Maratha empire and the portrait represents an important historical record of Indian politics of the 18th century," Hallmark said.

Born Balaji Janardan Bhanu, Nana Phadnavis - as he later came to be known - was one of the leading ministers of the Maratha empire during the Peshwa (prime ministers appointed by Maratha king, Shivaji) administration.

Following the assassination of Peshwa Narayanrao in 1773, Phadnavis led the regency Barbhai Council. His diplomatic and administrative achievements can largely be credited for maintaining the Maratha empire`s independence from British rule.

Phadnavis died March 13, 1800.

Following his death, the then Governor-General of India, Lord Richard Wellesley, described Phadnavis as "the able minister of Peshwa state, whose upright principles and honourable views and whose zeal for the welfare and prosperity, both of the dominions of his own immediate superiors and of other powers, were so justly celebrated."

Seaton was in India from 1776 to 1785 before returning to Scotland.

The painting, which is signed and dated 1778 in Bombay (Mumbai) on the back of the canvas, demonstrates that in his early years in the subcontinent, Seaton spent some time in that city.


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