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Artworks by F N Souza up for auction

F N Souza.

Mumbai : Francis Newton Souza, a founder of the Progressive Artists’ Group and who holds the record for the most expensive Indian painting to be ever sold at an auction, is the subject of Saffronart’s upcoming sale here.

A collection of over 200 works, including Souza’s artworks on paper, photographs of the artist, and rare books on the master artist is set to go under the hammer on December 10 in the auction titled “F N Souza: A Life in Line”.

The evening sale is part of Saffronart’s India Art Week (December 8-14) auction and comprises 85 lots of drawings and paintings by Souza spread across the legendary artist’s career from the early 1940s to the 1990s.

The collection includes landscapes, still lifes and nudes painted by the artist besides rare photographs of Souza by Ida Kar, an Armenian photographer who lived in London during that same time that Souza did.

One of the seven photographs in this sale is an iconic image of Souza seated in front of his painting ‘Man and Woman Laughing’ that captures the artist as a rising star in London’s art fraternity.

Born in Goa in 1924, Souza a modernist was a founding member of the Progressive Artists Group of Bombay before he left for England in 1949. Even after his death in Mumbai in 2002, his works continue to break records at auctions.

“F N Souza has remained one of the best known Indian modernists. His creativity has found a renewed following in India recently. This year, his iconic masterpieces ‘Man and Woman Laughing’ and ‘Birth’ both fetched prices unmatched by any other Indian artist giving Souza the attention he much deserved,” Hugo Weihe, CEO, Saffronart said.

‘Birth’ fetched USD 4.085 million at a Christie’s auction in New York in September this year, setting a new record for Souza while another of his paintings titled ‘Man and Woman Laughing’ went under the hammer for USD 2.59 million at Saffronart’s 15th anniversary auction held in New Delhi.

Meanwhile the December 10 auction maps Souza’s evolving style and life, from his formative years in Mumbai and London, to his later years in New York and offers an “entry point” for young collectors to acquire works by the artist.

His work “Peasants in Goa” painted in 1947 is estimated at Rs 18,00,000 – Rs 22,00,000 (USD 28,125 – USD 34,375),  Souza highlights the plight of the toiling common man.

Another theme frequented in Souza’s works is his interpretations of the human head.

Formerly from the Julian Hartnoll Collection in London, Untitled (Head of Man in Semi Profile) painted in 1958 is estimated to fetch Rs 6,00,000 – Rs 8,00,00 (USD 9,375 – USD 12,500).

Along with works on paper, the sale also offers a glimpse into the artist’s personal life.

‘A Set of Three Pages’ from Souza’s personal scrapbook is estimated at Rs 3,00,000 – Rs 5,00,000 (USD 4,690 – USD 7,815), offers original photographs and memorabilia, along with captions and notations.

“We get to read his words of excitement when Barbara Zinkant accepts his marriage proposal in 1964. They married in 1965. Included are photos of their last days in London before they moved to the US in 1967,” auctioneers said.

The sale is set to be conducted at Saffronart’s new flagship space on the ground floor of Industry Manor, Prabhadevi.

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