Saffronart’s online auction, From Classical to Contemporary, concluded last evening with 98 lots out of 121 lots being sold for INR 16 crore (USD 2.5 million). Offering a panoramic view of Indian art, the auction saw a strong demand for antiquities and modernists. Works by S H Raza, Akbar Padamsee, Arpita Singh, F N Souza, M F Husain, Manjit Bawa and Jagdish Swaminathan were in the top ten lots.
Commenting on the sale, CEO Hugo Weihe said, “We were thrilled with the excellent results for our auction spanning Classical, modern and contemporary Indian art. Demand was strong across categories, with collectors seeing the artworks in relation to each other. It was particularly encouraging to see buyers of modern and contemporary art expand their collection by acquiring antiquities from this sale.”
The auction opened with two early terracotta figurines of mother goddesses from Uttar Pradesh, made circa 100 BCE – 200 CE, which witnessed energetic bidding. Lot 1 sold for INR 2.76 lakhs (USD 4,320): over three times its lower estimate of INR 80,000 (USD 1,250), while lot 2 sold for INR 2.96 lakhs (USD 4,635): nearly five times its lower estimate of INR 60,000 (USD 940). All twenty lots in the Classical Indian art section sold for approximately INR 1.18 crore.
Three artworks by S H Raza, Akbar Padamsee and Arpita Singh together achieved a quarter of the total sale value. Lot 57, S H Raza’s Untitled 1982 acrylic on canvas which led the sale, sold for INR 1.73 crores (USD 270,000) against an estimate of INR 76.8 – 96 lakhs (USD 120,000 – 150,000). The dominance by modernists reinforces the strong demand for their works by collectors. However, early 20th century artists such as Madhav Satwalekar and Jamini Roy also witnessed vigorous bidding. Born in 1915, Satwalekar was among the early wave of Indian artists who combined realism with an indigenous approach to painting. Lot 86, a 1980 landscape painted in pastel shades, sold at six times its upper estimate of INR 4 lakhs (USD 6,250) for INR 25.5 lakhs (USD 39,900). Lot 27 by Roy sold at over twice its upper estimate of INR 7.68 lakhs (USD 12,000) for INR 19.58 lakhs (USD 30,600). Other artworks that surpassed their estimates included lots 47, 48 and 92 by F N Souza; lot 49 by Manjit Bawa; and lot 72 by Bhupen Khakhar.
The contemporary section was led by lot 108, an intricate sculpture by Dhananjay Singh made of stainless steel and bronze, sold at over twice its lower estimate of INR 10 lakhs (USD 15,625) for INR 24.14 lakhs (USD 37,725). Lot 111, Senaka Senanayake’s vibrant painting of a rainforest, sold for INR 14.2 lakhs (USD 22,200) against an estimate of INR 8 – 10 lakhs (USD 12,500 – 15,625). Twelve out of sixteen lots in this section sold for INR 1.3 crores against a total lower estimate of INR 96.5 lakhs for the sold lots.
Founded in 2000 by Minal and Dinesh Vazirani, Saffronart is a leading international auction house, and India’s most reputed, with over a hundred auctions to its credit. It is headquartered in Mumbai, with offices in New Delhi, London and New York. At the forefront of selling Indian art, Saffronart holds online and live auctions, exhibitions, and prime property sales throughout the year. Its focus is to bring transparency to the auction process, and providing easy access to bidders around the world. Saffronart’s services go beyond auctions to include private sales, art storage, appraisals and valuations for clients, and supporting the efforts of the Indian art world by holding fundraiser auctions. Saffronart has set several global benchmarks for online auctions, and was the subject of a case study at Harvard Business School in 2005.