An untitled work by Narayan Shridhar Bendre (1910-92), a member of the key Bombay Progressives artists’ group whose works are now highly sought after, sold within predictions at the auction on March 8.
It came to auction from a descendant of the potter Gurcharan Singh (1899-1995) who, according to the catalogue, had acquired this work directly from the artist.
The 3ft x 3ft 2in (91 x 97cm) signed oil on canvas was an example of the artist’s abstract compositions which mostly date from the 1960s onward.
However, commercially, these tend to be less valuable than his figurative works which were deemed a pioneering blend of traditional art forms with modernist techniques – a number of such pictures have made significant six-figure sums at auctions in the Indian subcontinent in the last five years.
The picture at Chiswick had previously appeared at Bonhams in London in 2000 where it was unsold against a £2500-3500 estimate.
But with the market for Bendre and other Bombay Progressives having developed significantly since then, the current picture was clearly viewed as a decent proposition against a £10,000-20,000 estimate.
After attracting bidding on the day, it was knocked down at £13,000 to a private India-based buyer.
Hashmi on the up
Bringing more eyecatching competition was a painting by Zarina Hashmi (1937-2020), a semi-abstract composition depicting a figure sitting in front of a row of houses.
The market for the artist and printmaker appears to be on the up with five of the top 10 highest prices for her work at auction being recorded since she died three years ago according to Artprice.
The artist was born in India but lived a peripatetic life (she travelled widely with her diplomat husband) but later became based in New York where she established a considerable reputation producing a range of work from conceptual sculpture to woodblock prints.
This 21¼in x 2ft 4in (54 x 71cm) oil on canvas was signed and dated 68 to the upper left. It had originally been purchased from the Sarala Art Centre in Chennai and had entered a private collection in the US, from where it was acquired by Chiswick’s vendor.
Being an early work that was stylistically removed from much of her more familiar later output, it was slightly difficult to quantify as a commercial entity.
This may well have led to the conservative estimate of £2000- 3000 but, after becoming the subject of a strong bidding battle, it was knocked down at £24,000 to a London dealer.
While the artist has recorded considerably higher sums at auctions in India and the US, the price represented one of the top five results for Hashmi at a UK auction.