AS THE hammer is set to go down on 60 artworks including paintings and photographs by artists such as M F Husain, Ram Kumar and Raghu Rai, Prinseps Auction House hosted a preview on Sunday. The auction, set to take place online on April 24-25, is part of Prinseps’s spring collection, their first of the year.
Indrajit Chatterjee, founder and director, Prinseps Auction House, said, “When we started out two years ago we thought there is a lot of depth to art. There is a lot to be researched, discovered and explored and we started to document things like modern photography in India along with paintings. We have put together a set of rare and unique artworks for this auction.”
The base price for artworks ranges from Rs 20,000 to Rs 1.5 crore. Standout pieces include a 1944 M F Husain drawing of a painting he never ended up doing. “This is a piece that was before Husain’s work came into the limelight. However, it being unfinished makes it one of a kind,” says Chatterjee. The sketch is of the Taj Mahal, with Shah Jahan and his consorts on the side.
The collection also features two photographs of Indian photographer and photojournalist Raghu Rai, one of them being of Mumbai’s Marine Drive in the 1960’s. The most expensive piece (base price Rs 1.5 crore) is a painting of Ram Kumar from 1961 called ‘Mazes of the mind’. “This is a standout piece as it’s when the artist was making the transition from a figurative painter to abstraction,” says Chatterjee. The painting is two-sided, with the other side of the piece being discovered by a restorer eight years ago.
“The collector who owned the piece sent it for restoration and since this is made on a board and not canvas, the artist could paint on both sides. Hence, when the artist painted this, he covered the other side up and it took the restorer six years to carefully take the white paint off,” he adds.
Other pieces at the auction include a photograph by Homai Vyarwalla, India’s first female photojournalist, of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru sharing a cigarette with the wife of British Deputy High Commissioner, on board the first BOAC flight.