Celebrated master portraitist Raja Ravi Varma and SH Raza were in high demand at Sotheby's bi-annual sales of "Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art" and "Indian and Himalayan and Southeast Asian Works of Art" here.
The highlight of Sotheby's Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art sale was the untitled (Damyanti) painting by Raja Ravi Varma who was declared a national art treasure by the Indian government in 1979, estimated at $500,000-$700,000 and sold for $1,692,500 dollars.
Yamini Mehta, International Head of Indian and South Asian Art, noted: "We were delighted to see today's auction — the only sale of Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art taking place during Asia Week New York — comfortably exceed the high estimate.
"Vigorous bidding for Raja Ravi Varma, Sayed Haider Raza, and other modern masters, translated to a 91.4 per cent sell-through rate with 67.9 per cent of lots exceeding their high estimates, including a series of strong prices for signature works by Maqbool Fida Husain. Our commitment to India, through our highlights exhibition at the beautiful Leela Palace in Delhi and special events in Mumbai, London and New York, bore fruit this week, and we look forward to continuing to shape this market in our salesrooms in the years to come," she added.
Featuring paintings and works of art across 1,700 years — beginning in the 3rd century and ending in the 21st century — the two sales of South Asian Art showcased the wide range of artistic styles and creative output, and underlined the significance and desirability of provenance in this field.
"We curated our Indian, Himalayan and Southeast Asian Works of Art sale to today's market and were pleased to see it demonstrate continued momentum in our collecting category. The sustained interest in both property from the Cleveland Museum of Art and selections from the Lanier Collection,illustrated the global demand – from the United States, Europe, the Middle East, India and beyond – for works from important collections, particularly when fresh to the market," said Anu Ghosh-Mazumdar, Head of the Indian and Southeast Asian Art department in New York.
The sales achieved a total of $11,280,750 this week, with both auctions fetching near and above the high estimate. Indian, Himalayan and Southeast Asian Works of Art Fetched a total of $4.7 million while Sotheby's Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art reached a total figure of $6.6 million.