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‘Rabindranath Tagore’s sketch’ to go on auction on 27 June is fake: Experts

‘Rabindranath Tagore’s sketch’ to go on auction on 27 June is fake: Experts
A 1933 nib and ink work by Rabindranath Tagore, going under the hammer on 27 June in New Delhi, is being touted to be ‘fake’ by Tagore experts in the City of Joy, which saw a major campaign against fake Tagore paintings barely three years ago.

The original work by Tagore is reportedly still housed in the Rabindra Bhawan, Visva Bharati. Susobhan Adhikary, curator of the Kala Bhavan museum of Visva Bharati, says, ‘The original work—a black and white sketch—is still housed at Visva Bharati. Tagore obviously did not draw the same sketch twice. The sketch going up for the auction appears to be a print version of the original.’
Also, the orange colour used for the work in question appears dubious to Adhikary, a Tagore expert. ‘The glow of the colour in a Tagore painting is simply missing here,’ he says. Interestingly, the work going up for auction has a book title ‘Nritya—Protima Devi’ inked on top, words missing from the original sketch. The title however is there in the first print of the work in 1949.

‘The size of the book cover which used the Tagore sketch was 10 inches by 7 inches. It was printed in 1949 for the first time. Subsequently, the reprints were the size of 9 inches by 5 inches. The work that is going under the hammer appears to be of this size,’ alleged a Tagore expert, comparing it to the original sketch by the poet.

Tagore experts are planning to approach the government of India seeking tracking the whole malaise of faking the works of 9 Indian artists considered to be national treasures. It is likely that prime minister Narendra Modi will be asked to intervene in the matter. ‘One needs to frame the right laws so that such offences can be checked in the future. A PIL may also offer a solution,’ said Ganesh Haloi, a senior artist from the city and a retired teacher at the Government College of Art and Craft. The ASI may also be contacted over the issue.

Prof R Sivakumar, a Tagore expert, curator and author, says, ‘One needs to look at the work that is going up for auction in real and compare it to the original work of Tagore.
There are stylistic discrepancies which is why a thorough investigation should be done. Also the date of the original work (1933), the date of the book (1949) and Tagore’s death (1941) simply don’t match.’
Nandini Guha

Nandini Guha

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