Rare Tagore notebook features in second auction by Christie's

Rare Tagore notebook features in second auction by Christie's

Works by the leading names of India’s modern art movements — Vasudeo S Gaitonde, the Tagores, Jamini Roy, Tyeb Mehta and Francis Newton Souza— will be offered alongside 10 contemporary pieces donated by artists such as Subodh Gupta and Bharti Kher at the second edition of Christie’s auction in Mumbai.

Among the works that will go under the hammer is a remarkable pocket book belonging to the artist, Nobel Laureate, poet and philosopher Rabindranath Tagore.

To be held on Thursday evening at the Taj Mahal Palace in Colaba here, the sales may benefit Khoj, the artist residency programme established in 1997. The auction will also include significant works and items by some of India’s designated “National Treasure”.

The first sale in India — in December 2013 — generated $15.4 million and received an overwhelming positive response by the Indian art and collector community. The pre-sale estimate of the sale is lower than in 2013 but the offering is more diverse with an increase of 40 per cent of Indian contemporary art .

Tyeb Mehta’s (1925-2009) mastery of composition and economy of line is evident in the painting “Untitled” (Falling Bull) which leads the sale. Showing the central figure of a bull on a rickshaw set  against blocks of vivid colour, it showcases Mehta’s recurring motif:
“For me, the trussed bull is a  compulsive image”. The 1999 canvas is estimated at Rs 8.5 crore to Rs 12 crore. Tagore’s journal, written in Bengali in his handwriting, is a rare mixture of poetry, art and introspection.

Covering the years 1889 to 1904, the pages reveal the private concerns of Tagore, from mundane land transactions and taxation, to a poem written as a guide for children learning to read. The book was given by Tagore to a teacher at Santiniketan, Subodh Chandra Mazumder.

Tagore composed many of his major poems and songs in this book, including  poems from the Sonar Tari (Golden Boat) series and 19 poems from the Swaran series. Nothing similar by the Nobel Laureate has been offered for sale at auction in India.

It is estimated to fetch between Rs 40 to Rs 60 lakh.

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