NEW YORK—Online auctioneer Saffronart’s winter sale of modern and contemporary Indian art on Dec. 12–13, realized a total of $2.7 million, just missing the low end of the overall presale estimate of $2.8 million/3.6 million. Of 80 lots on offer, 57, or 71 percent, were sold. The auction house said 24, or 60 percent, of the sold lots achieved prices that were above the high estimate.
The top lot was Maqbool Fida Husain’s The Pull, 1952, an oil on board depicting a puppet master. Estimated at $250,000/350,000, the painting sold for $320,500. According to the catalogue, the work is a “seminal painting,” from a period when the artist was still working on honing his artistic idiom and style, “composed with the rhythmic confident line that soon became Husain’s trademark.”
Also among the top lots was Husain’s oil on canvas Untitled, 1959, which sold for $146,040, compared with an estimate of $130,000/150,000, and Lady with the Lamp, 1979, which sold for $144,000, compared with an estimate of $120,000/150,000.
The second-highest lot was Francis Newton Souza’s Man with Still Life, 1953, that sold for $240,000, clearing the $180,000/220,000 estimate. According to critic David Sylvester, writing in 1957, the artist “crossed Indian bazaar painting with the Picasso style.”
Two other oil on board works by Souza figured in the top lots: Negress with Braids, 1957, which sold for $146,400 compared with an estimate of $120,000/180,000; and Bust of a Young Woman, 1964, which sold for $120,000, near the top of the $100,000/120,000 estimate. The latter painting, the 1964 nude bust, “is one of Souza’s more sedate works,” according to the catalogue.
Syed Haider Raza’s Maha Bharata, 2007, filled with brightly painted geometric shapes, took $210,000, compared with an estimate of $140,000/180,000.
Ram Kumar’s Untitled, 1975, an abstract landscape, sold for $120,600, compared with an estimate of $100,000/150,000.