• ARTnewsletter Archive

    Sotheby’s: Indian Contemporary Art Sale Fizzles; Welch Sale Sizzles

    Sotheby’s modern and contemporary South Asian art sale, on May 31 in London, met with lackluster interest from buyers.

    NEW YORK—Sotheby’s modern and contemporary South Asian art sale, on May 31 in London, met with lackluster interest from buyers. Of 60 lots offered, just 33 were sold. By value, the auction was 47 percent sold, achieving a total of £1.6 million ($2.7 million).

    An oil on canvas, Rue des Fossés St Jacques, 1957, by Sayed Haider Raza (b. 1922), sold for £337,250 ($557,609), on an estimate of £300,000/500,000. The work shows a view from the studio window that Raza and his wife, painter Janine Mongillat, rented in Paris in the ’50s.

    An untitled painting by Manjit Bawa (1941–2008) was bought by a trade buyer for £157,250 ($259,997), compared with an estimate of £100,000/150,000, and another by Bawa, also untitled, sold for £61,250 ($101,271), against an estimate of £50,000/70,000.

    Two more untitled pieces, these by the recently deceased Maqbool Fida Husain (1915–2011), were bought by private U.S. buyers, one for £87,650 ($144,921), on an estimate of £50,000/70,000, the other for £63,650 ($105,239), compared with an estimate of £30,000/40,000.

    Records at Auction of Welch Collection

    Titled Arts of India, the second part of the sale of the Stuart Cary Welch collection of Islamic and Indian art was held at Sotheby’s London on May 31, realizing £8.4 million ($13.9 million); combined with the first part (held in April), total sales were £29.3 million ($48 million). The April sale had a sell-through rate of 96.2 percent by lot, while Arts of India posted sell-through rates of 98 percent by lot and 99.6 percent by value.

    Welch (1928–2008), a curator of Islamic and Indian art at the Harvard Art Museum, was also a special consultant for the department of Islamic art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; he began collecting Indian art as a young boy.

    The May sale saw an auction record for a Nepalese painting: Vasudhara Mandala, 1365, by Jasaraja Jirila, sold for £825,250 ($1.4 million), doubling the £300,000/400,000 estimate.

    The top lot however, was Sri Bhairavi Devi with Shiva, ca. 1630–35, attributable to Payag, Mughal, which sold to a “North American institution,” for £1.4 million ($2.3 million), far higher than the £30,000/40,000 estimate.