Millennium Post

Saffronart's September Sale: Celebrating Indian Modernists

The Evening Sale follows closely on the heels of the opening of Asia Society’s landmark exhibition, The Progressive Revolution: Modern Art for a New India, in New York.

Saffronarts September Sale:  Celebrating Indian Modernists

Saffronart will return with its annual evening sale – a live auction of modern Indian art, at The Oberoi, New Delhi on September 20. The Evening Sale follows closely on the heels of the opening of Asia Society's landmark exhibition, The Progressive Revolution: Modern Art for a New India, in New York on September 14. It includes important paintings by many artists featured in that show.

Commenting on the auction, CEO Dinesh Vazirani says, "Saffronart's Evening Sale this year comes at an exciting time in the international art calendar, when the spotlight is firmly on modern Indian art. The rare and iconic works in this auction by modern masters include several members of the Progressive Artists' Group, many of whom feature extensively in the Asia Society's forthcoming exhibition. These works offer collectors a chance to acquire not just a painting, but really a piece of Indian art history. With a strong Indian art market and rising interest among younger collectors, we look forward to offering some of the best of Indian art in New Delhi."

The sale features 69 works of historical significance by India's foremost Modernists. Among them is S H Raza's Village en Provence, a magnificent six-foot-long panoramic view of the south of France, painted in 1957, a year after Raza won the prestigious Prix de la Critique award and a decade after the Progressive Artists' Group was formed. Estimated at INR 4 – 6 crores (USD 571,430 – 857,145), this work is a unique and rare format for the artist and demonstrates the significant shift in his style, which had led him to redefine the course of Indian Modernism, becoming one of the most influential artists of the post-Independence era.

From the same decade is Akbar Padamsee's masterpiece – an untitled (Head of a Woman) estimated at INR 1 – 1.5 crores (USD 142,860 – 214,290). Painted in 1952, the same year he won the third prize in the Journal D'Arte competition for a similar work, it is an exceptional example of Padamsee's early explorations with the figure.

A 1975 Untitled work by V S Gaitonde leads the sale. Estimated at INR 15 – 20 crores (USD 2.2 – 2.9 million), this enigmatic work in deep crimson merges Gaitonde's interest in Zen Buddhism with the principles of calligraphy. One of the few works he painted that year, it is a classic example of his later work, which is a period highly coveted among collectors.

Following Tyeb Mehta's iconic painting of Kali, 1989, which set a world record for the artist at INR 26.4 crores (approximately USD 4 million) in Saffronart's June 2018 Summer Online Auction, comes another crucial work from Mehta's oeuvre. Tyeb Mehta's seated female figure, painted in 1961 during his stay in England, is a significant early painting and goes under the hammer with a presale estimate of INR 3.75 – 4.75 crores (USD 551,475 – 698,530).

Saffronart's carefully curated collection of rare masterpieces also features an early oil and tempera work by the formidable artist Nicholas Roerich, painted in the early-20th century. Created as part of a stage design for the Russian opera Snegurochka (The Snow Maiden), it represents Roerich's early success as an auteur of theatre design in Russia and Europe. The Snow Maiden (Stage Design) is estimated at INR 2.2 – 2.8 crores (USD 314,290 – 400,000).

The Evening Sale is Saffronart's first live auction to be held at the redesigned premises of The Oberoi, New Delhi, and is preceded by viewings at Saffronart in Mumbai and New Delhi. All lots from the sale can be viewed on

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