Sotheby’s June 09 Indian Art Sale – artmarketblog.com
On the 16th of June Sotheby’s held a sale of Indian art at their Bond, St. London Saleroom which, with the recent downturn in the demand for contemporary Indian art, was an important sale. Works by the modern masters fared well as was to be expected with works by the famous Maqbool Fida Husain proving particularly popular. Even though only 67% of the 86 lots on offer were sold the sale total of 2,067,400 GBP (3,376,684 USD) exceeded the pre-sale estimate of 1,193,500-1,754,000 GBP. This was mainly due to two works the first being the catalogue cover lot by Jogen Chowdhury titled ‘Day Dreaming’ which sold for 373,250 GBP against an estimate of 80,000-120,000 GBP and the other being ‘Orange Head’ by Francis Newton Souza which made 403,250 against an estimate of 80,000-120,000 GBP. All seven works by Husain found buyers with five of the works exceeding the top estimate including an untitled work from 1953 which fetched the third highest price of the auction of 109,250 against an estimate of 50,000 – 70,000 GBP. The two Husain works that didn’t exceed their top estimate were minor works on paper which proves that quality and rarity were important factors for buyers.
A safety net of historical works from the 16th to 19th centuries made up more than a third of the catalogue and sold well. The highlight of the historical works was an illustration from the Harivamsa circa 1820 that depicts Krishna and his consorts frolicking in the heavens while his companions watch from the Yamuna, India, Kangra or Guler which sold for 23,750 GBP against an estimate of 3,000—5,000 GBP. Works by lesser known and contemporary artists did not do as well with two major works by Thukral and Tagra each estimated to bring in 30,000 – 40,000 GBP failing to sell. The disappointing results for the works by contemporary artists were to be expected considering the overall decline in the demand for contemporary art.
The top four lots went to US private collectors as did the 8th and 10th highest priced lots. Indian private collectors took home the 6th and 7th highest prices lots with the 5th and 9th highest priced lots purchased by London dealers on behalf of private collectors. Overall the sale was a success for Sotheby’s who managed to put together a small and safe catalogue of works that would appeal to a wide range of buyers. The inclusion of several rare top quality works by the most sought after Indian artists satisfied the discerning collectors who are driving the market and gave Sotheby’s a solid result.
**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of http://www.artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.
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