Mumbai: Amrita Sher-Gil’s ‘The Little Girl in Blue’ fetched ₹ 18.69 crore at Sotheby’s maiden auction in India—’Boundless:India"—in Mumbai, setting a record price for the artist in the country. The 1934 artwork, a portrait of Sher-Gil’s then eight-year-old cousin Babit, was estimated at ₹ 8.5-12.5 crore.
First exhibited in 1937 as part of the artist’s debut show in Lahore, the painting was bought by art historian Charles Fabri, and was brought back on the market after eight long decades by Sotheby’s, making it only the seventh oil painting by her to be offered anywhere in the world.
“This is a milestone moment for Sotheby’s; the realisation of a vision we have been planning for many years. The sale reflects Sotheby’s continued commitment to the South Asian market and our South Asian clients going forward. “The enthusiasm that we have seen for the sale and for our supporting exhibitions in Delhi and Mumbai, stands us in very good stead for the future," said Edward Gibbs, Sotheby’s chairman for the Middle East and India.
A record price was also achieved for an untitled 1950s bronze sculpture by Sadanand Bakre. At ₹ 1.88 crore it fetched the highest price for any 20th century Indian sculpture. It was estimated at ₹ 40-60 lakh.
Contemporary artist Arpita Singh’s ‘Men Sitting, Men Standing’ estimated at ₹ 1.20-1.80 crore also sold over the high estimate for ₹ 1.88 crore.
With an upper estimate of ₹ 1.10 crore, Francis Newton Souza’s 1961 painting of the London skyline featuring the St Paul’s Cathedral under what looks like a stormy sky, did exceedingly well by fetching ₹ 1.88 crore.
Leading the lot was Tyeb Mehta’s ‘Durga Mahisasura Mardini’, which sold for ₹ 20.49 crore, a little above the painting’s lower estimate of ₹ 20 crore. The auction house noted that over 75% of sold lots achieved prices above their pre-sale high estimates, fetching a total of ₹ 55.40 crore.
“The results are a vote of confidence for the South Asian art market, with significant new records and benchmarks achieved across many different artists and genres. “The sale has enabled us to connect with scores of new and existing clients, and at the same time really deepen our understanding of the market here. We look forward to planning our next steps in the region," said Yamini Mehta, international head of Indian and South Asian Art at Sotheby’s.