A stunning image by one of India’s foremost modern artists, Jehangir Sabavala, sold for a record 253,650 pounds to lead a strong selection of works by major South Asian artists at the Bonhams annual summer sale of modern and contemporary South Asian art June 7.
Sabavala’s “Vespers I” had been estimated to sell for 100,000-150,000 pounds but after a saleroom tussle between two buyers, it was sold for a massive 253,650 pounds — a world record for an Indian artist at Bonhams. Sabavala died Sept. 2, 2011, at the age of 89.
“Sabavala had a lifelong fascination with monastic life, and the figures of the monk and the hermit are central to his work. Indeed, he often compared his long, solitary and disciplined hours of work in the studio with a monk’s routine of study, prayer, retreat and meditation,” said Ranjit Hoskote, an independent curator who was responsible for the Indian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2011.
Mehreeen Rizvi, head of modern and contemporary South Asian art at Bonhams commenting after the sale, said: “We are delighted with this result for Sabavala. It is about time this artist achieved commercial success in the art market to mirror his artistic reputation.”
The sale also included works by well-known Indian, Pakistani and Sri Lankan artists such as M.F. Husain, Jamini Roy, B. Prabha, Sadequain, Jamil Naqsh, A. R. Chughtai and Gulgee, sourced from private collections in Europe and the U.S.