Husain, Sher-Gil headline Sotheby’s second India auction

Mumbai, Nov 1 (IANSlife) After its debut art auction in India last year, Sotheby’s second ‘Boundless: India’ sale will take place on November 15 here, and is highlighted by a 1940 Amrita Sher-gil painting and two M.F. Husain works, one of which is a never-before-seen photograph.

The 61-lot auction, set to take place in the Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai, will feature modern and contemporary South Asian art, photography, prints and design.

It includes an “Untitled (Windsor Lad)” oil canvas by Amrita Sher-Gil (1913 – 1941). As per Sotheby’s, it is a National Art Treasure under the Indian law and cannot be exported outside of India.

“This painting was made at the behest of the Maharaja Of Rajpipla and is meant to be a portrait of “Windsor Lad”, one of the most famous racehorses of the 20th century. Windsor Lad was owned by the Maharajah and won the Epsom Derby in 1934,” Sotheby’s said.

The Maharaja commissioned this painting of his favourite horse in 1940 after he saw a Lucknow exhibition of Sher-Gil’s work, it added.

It is estimated to fetch between Rs 4.5-6.5 crore.

A 1969 oil-on-canvas titled Blue “Boy On Tree Top” by one of India’s most-known painters, Husain (1913-2011), is estimated to go between Rs 80 lakh and Rs 1.2 crore.

Its composition is based on a scene “frequently depicted in both the folk and classical miniature tradition. This work depicts Krishna hiding in a tree having stolen clothes from his devoted gopis (milk-maids) whilst they bathe in a river. The fervent devotion to Krishna by the gopis of Vrindavan is often employed as an example of bhakti(Devotion through Love),” said the auction house.

Another work by him, which Sotheby’s tags as his “rarest” and “never-before-seen in public”, is a photograph created in 1976 in Switzerland, when Husain was working on producing a coffee table book called “Triangles” meant for private circulation.

It “encompasses one of Husain’s most important and evocative themes: women. A woman, represented here twice, is shown in dynamic movement. The duplication of her body results in a hybrid form, one which appears powerfully liberated from romanticism and eroticism. Painted on her torso is another of Husain’s other enduring motifs, the elephant. By exaggerating the upper body, Husain plays with the discomfort of the viewer’s gaze, and through the use of dark shadow he represents the expressiveness of the human body to its fullest”.

It is estimated to fetch between Rs 6-8 lakh.

As per Sotheby’s, it also includes an unseen, untitled painting by one of India’s most important modern abstract painters, Vasudeo S. Gaitonde, done in 1974.

This auction following Sotheby’s inaugural auction in Mumbai, which totalled to Rs 55.40 crores or $7.9 million.

Highlights included Tyeb Mehta’s “Durga Mahisasura Mardini”, which sold for Rs 20.49 crores ($2.9 million) and Amrita Sher-Gil’s “The Little Girl in Blue”, selling for Rs 18.69 crores ($2.7 million) setting a record price for Sher-Gil in India.

(Siddhi Jain can be contacted at



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