Works by Souza, Husain, Sher-Gil to be auctioned by Sotheby's

Sotheby's auction of Modern and Contemporary Indian art in London on June 10 will see some iconic pieces go under the hammer

By The Telegraph
  • Published 3.06.19, 6:20 PM
  • Updated 3.06.19, 6:20 PM
  • a min read
  •  

Sotheby's is holding its auction of Modern and Contemporary Indian Art on June 10 in London. The auction will see some iconic works go under the hammer such as Francis Newton Souza's self-declared masterpiece, one of only 10 works of Amrita Sher-Gil remaining in private hands outside India and Indian pop art by Bhupen Khakhar.  A look at the highlights.

Sotheby's
Photo Credit: Sotheby's
Francis Newton Souza’s monumental Untitled painting described by the artist as a ‘probable masterpiece’, tells the Old Testament story of Susanna and the Elders, in which a young Jewish woman, who refuses the advances of her husband’s elderly male guests, is accused of promiscuity and put on trial for her life. In the end, virtue triumphs and the elders are put to death. At the time of painting it in 1958, Souza was living in Europe, and in drawing upon this story, consciously followed in the footsteps of generations of western painters -- from Titian, El Greco and Artemisia Gentileschi, to Edouard Manet and Chaïm Soutine -- whose own interpretations of the tale he saw first-hand as he explored the continent. For his unique take on the theme, Souza takes inspiration from African art, Romanesque art, classical Indian sculpture, and stained-glass church windows. Francis Newton Souza, Untitled; Oil on canvas, 600,000-800,000 GBP
Sotheby's
Photo Credit: Sotheby's
‘Trees’ presents a rare opportunity to acquire a work painted by Sher-Gil outside India and in free circulation. Thus far only six works have ever appeared for auction on the international market and only ten works are known in private collections outside India. The painting was purchased by the artist’s friends László and Rózsi Urbach directly from Sher-Gil in 1939 and has remained in their family’s collection ever since. ‘Trees’ was painted in Hungary in 1938, at a moment when she had amalgamated not only what she had learned as a student in France but also what she had imbibed in India, where she had already created some of her most well-known masterpieces. Born in Budapest in 1913, Sher-Gil spent almost one third of her tragically short life in Hungary and grew up on Hungarian fables and folk songs. While much has been written about her work, those pieces from her Hungarian period are lesser known, adding to their desirability. Amrita Sher-Gil, Trees; Oil on canvas, 1939, 61.2 x 38.3 cm; 500,000 - 700,000 GBP
Sotheby's
Photo Credit: Sotheby's
Untitled (Praying Woman) has resided in the same collection for over 60 years, having been acquired directly from M F Husain by the current owner in 1958 immediately after its completion. The owner, who was a diplomat posted in India, had become close friends with the artist. M.F. Husain’s earliest works appear two-dimensional with simple flat planes of colour inspired by the likes of Picasso and Matisse. Maqbool Fida Husain, Untitled (Praying Woman); Oil on canvas, 1958, 61 x 45.7 cm; 100,000 - 150,000 GBP
Sotheby's
Photo Credit: Sotheby's
Like Untitled (Praying Woman), Untitled (Sitar Players) has also remained in the same collection since the year it was painted and has diplomatic provenance. The current owner lived in New Delhi from 1970-1973 as the wife of the Greek Ambassador and was given lodgings at The Oberoi Hotel. Charmed by Husain's paintings that were being sold at the hotel, she bought three works, all different in style and subject matter, including this work, a modern interpretation of Ragamala paintings. Maqbool Fida Husain, Untitled (Sitar Players); Oil on canvas, 1970, 102 x 127.5 cm; 150,000 - 200,000 GBP
Sotheby's
Photo Credit: Sotheby's
When Bhupen Khakhar moved to Baroda in the early 1960s, he shared a flat for a short while with a British student who introduced him to British pop art. Khakhar went on to become an early proponent of the movement in India. Collages were among the first works of art that he produced. By integrating found objects like bits of discarded plastic, mirrors and photos of Shrinathji, an avatar of the Hindu God Krishna, Khakhar elevates them to the status of fine art. Bhupen Khakhar, Interior of a Hindu House – I, Oil, mirror, collage and mixed media on canvas, 1965, 76.5 x 61.4 cm; 90,000 - 120,000 GBP
Also Read