Celebrating 25 years of Christie’s presence in India

As Christie’s celebrates 25 years of operations in India, it’s taking works of some of the best modern and contemporary Indian artists to its New York sale on 11th September.

25 years of Christie's, Auction in NY: The Visitors by Bikash Bhattacharjee, signed and dated 'Bikash '70'. Oil on canvas, 48 x 48 in.
Untitled (The Visitors) by Bikash Bhattacharjee, signed and dated ‘Bikash ’70’. Oil on canvas, 48 x 48 in.

2019 marks 25 years of Christie’s presence in India and 24th year of holding standalone auctions of 20thCentury Indian Art. Up next is a South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art sale with over 110 works by modern and contemporary artists from the Indian Subcontinent. Important works of masters Syed Haider Raza, Francis Newton Souza and Bikash Bhattacharjee will be leading the sale that will also include an exceptional selection by contemporary artists, including Mrinalini Mukherjee whose retrospective is currently running at The Met Breuer in New York. Folks in Mumbai can enjoy viewing highlights of the New York auction from 22-24 August. Continuous guided tours will be offered by Christie’s specialists at the Mumbai preview.

“25 years ago, Christie’s was the first international auction house to open a permanent office in India. Over this quarter century, the perception, recognition and admiration for this category has grown internationally with the help of major retrospectives and exhibitions of works by Indian Masters, alongside local initiatives, such as the India Art Fair, the Kochi-Muziris Biennale and the Serendipity Arts Festival. 24 years of holding auctions in the category has allowed Christie’s to establish a robust international platform for South Asian Art, from the modern masters to contemporary artists, and we will continue to build on these successes,” commented Sonal Singh, Senior Specialist and Managing Director of Christie’s India.

New York Sale Highlights

25 years of Christie's, Auction in NY: Untitled (Cityscape) by Sayed Haider Raza, signed and dated 'RAZA 1956' (upper left). Oil and ink on paper laid on canvas, 19½ x 41½ in.
Untitled (Cityscape) by Sayed Haider Raza, signed and dated ‘RAZA 1956’ (upper left). Oil and ink on paper laid on canvas, 19½ x 41½ in.

The painting being offered at the New York sale by Syed Haider Raza is a rare cityscape painted in 1956. The artist moved to Paris on a scholarship from the French Government to attend the École NationaleSupérieure des Beaux-Arts in 1949. The canvas records his impressions of Paris on what seems like a cold wintry morning. Assumed to be the view from his first studio at Rue de Fossés St. Jacques, the Parisian buildings are depicted with dark ink outlines over oil. The painting is estimated to fetch $350,000-400,000.

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A portrait of a woman by Francis Newton Souza is also among the highlights of the NY sale. Painted in 1952, before he began to receive recognition for his work, the subject is neither overly sexualised or disfigured like his later works. Instead the subject seems almost sculpted from the heavily textured paint and her meditative expression as well her veil-like headdress suggests that she belonged to some religious order. It is estimated at $180,000-250,000.

Another gem is a painting from 1970 by Bikash Bhattacharjee titled The Visitors. This artwork belongs to a particularly creative period of the artist’s career, which led up to him receiving two consecutive National Awards in 1971 and 72. Estimated at $40,000-60,000, this finely detailed scene of the artist’s studio with an apparition of a beautiful woman conceals within it two more images – of a bespectacled male and a phantom-like third figure. The painting is part of the renowned Dorothy and Richard Sherwood Collection.

The auction will also offer about 20 modern and contemporary works of art donated by artists, galleries and collectors to support the Library of Bengali Literature, published by Columbia University Press.