Gaganendranath Tagore picture
An ink on paper image of umbrellas in Kolkata by Gaganendranath Tagore – £11,500 at Cuttlestones.

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It was enough for bidders to conclude a connection with Gaganendranath Tagore (1867-1938) and send the painting way above its guide of £80-120 to bring £11,500 (plus 20% buyer’s premium). It was bought by a bidder in the US who, like others who viewed multiple images online, was confident it was ‘right’.

Gaganendranath was a nephew of Rabindranath Tagore (1861- 1941), the Nobel prize winning poet, writer, composer, philosopher and social reformer. This particular ink on paper scene of umbrellas raised against the rain in Kolkata is similar to one that appears among Gaganendranath’s illustrations for Rabindranath’s Jeevansmriti (My Reminiscences) published in 1912. The work marked Gaganendranath’s assimilation of the Japanese brush techniques into his art.

A pencil note to the margin of the 9 x 13in (23 x 32cm) picture – a very nice find for a local house clearer – suggested it had been a gift to Sir Michael Ernest Sadler (1861-1943), the educationalist and university administrator. From 1917-19 he led the ‘Sadler Commission’ which looked at the state of Indian Education when he and Rabindranath Tagore became friends.

The Bengali polymath later wrote to him: “I always feel deeply thankful when I have the occasion to learn to love an Englishman – only because our unnatural relationship has been such a great hindrance against true mutual communication.” Sadler was an art collector of some note, displaying his collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings in a picture gallery.