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Souza’s ‘The Lovers’ goes under the hammer for $4.89 million at Christie’s

Apart from 'The Lovers', Souza’s ‘Priest with Chalice’ fetched $3.9 million at Christie’s South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art auction

Souza’s ‘The Lovers’ goes under the hammer for $4.89 million at Christie’s
[Source photo: Instagram/raagini.pareek]
Francis Newton Souza’s The Lovers fetched $4.89 million, a record for the artist, at Christie’s South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art auction on 20 March.
A part of the Asian Art Week at Christie’s, the auction included works from the collection of Umesh and Sunanda Gaur.
The auction, which coincides with the centennial of Souza’s birth, showcased 36 of his works and sold them all for $19.7 million, greatly exceeding expectations.
The auction featured a selection of his works from the Gaur Collection, including the captivating ‘Girl with Two Men’. This piece exemplifies Souza’s signature figurative style, which reached its peak in the 1950s and 1960s with his renowned series of “black paintings.”

Often hailed as India’s most radical artist, Souza co-founded the Progressive Artists’ Group in 1947. Alongside contemporaries like Sayed Haider Raza and MF Husain, he aimed to forge a new path for modern art in India. By blending classical Indian themes with European advancements in technology and style, the group laid the foundation for artistic modernism in the country.

Apart from The Lovers, Souza’s Priest with Chalice sold at $3,922,000, Men in Boats at $693,000, and Untitled (Head of a Cardinal) achieved $630,000. 

Several other works by Souza and artists like Manjit Bawa also surpassed expectations, showcasing the robust market for South Asian art. 

Bawa’s Untitled more than doubled its low estimate, realizing $693,000 while Gulam Mohammed Sheikh’s Portrait of a Tree realized $1,381,000, nine-times its low estimate. 

“Christie’s is thrilled to have set a new record for Francis Newton Souza in this landmark sale that celebrated the 100th anniversary of his birth,” stated Nishad Avari, head of classical & contemporary Indian and South Asian art.

“The market for this artist and this category are stronger than ever, a testament to the brilliance of South Asia’s artists.” 

The day began with the auction of Indian, Himalayan and Southeast Asian Works of Art, totaling $1,231,020. Notable pieces included a 15th-16th century Tibetan gilt-bronze figure of Amitabha ($239,400), a 15th century Nepalese gilt-bronze figure of Chakrasamvara ($201,600), and a portrait of Kashmiri Darners from Punjab ($107,100).

The Asian Art Week at Christie’s will continue with one final live sale and four online auctions open for bidding until next week.


Shireen Khan is a Senior Correspondent at Press Insider. She covers lifestyle, culture, and health. More

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