Sotheby’s London achieved the highest price of the summer season for Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art when a newly discovered work by Indian artist Vasudeo S Gaitonde sold for £698,500 at a recently concluded auction. Coming to the market for the first time in 50 years, Gaitonde’s luminous Painting No 1, of 1962, was acquired in New York during the 1960s. Consigned to an attic for many years and discovered during a valuation by one of Sotheby’s New York specialists, the work’s owners were unaware that it was a painting by one of India’s most important artists.
The painting is the first of a series of works that Gaitonde had produced in 1962. “We were thrilled, but not altogether surprised that Gaitonde’s exquisitely subtle and incandescent Painting No 1 was the pick of the week’s sales in London.
There was intense competition for this important and exceptionally rare work,” says Yamini Mehta, Sotheby’s International Head of Indian and South Asian Art. She adds that following on from the hugely successful Amaya Collection in New York in March, Sotheby’s has demonstrated that there is a keen appetite among international collectors for works by Modern Masters, which are new to the market and attractively priced, explaining that, “this was a truly global sale with bidding and underbidding from around the world -- from India, the Far East, the US and Europe.”
Works by modern masters such as MF Husain, SH Raza and Bhupen Khakhar also performed strongly with works by Husain achieving some of the highest prices in the sale. Two outstanding paintings by him, Jhoola of 1961 and Untitled (three women with sitar) of 1979, sold for £242,500 and £188,500 respectively. Bhupen Khakhar’s Air, Steam and Speed soared above its pre-sale estimate to achieve £182,500.