Jehangir Sabavala Vespers I breaks artist's world record by 4.4%

Vespers I, a work by Modern Indian artist Jehangir Sabavala (1922-2011), was the leading light of Bonhams' Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art sale on June 7 in London.

The work sold for £253,650 ($391,390), a new world record for the artist, 69.1% above its £150,000 high valuation.

The previous record for the artist was held by The Casuarina Line I, which sold for $374,900 in 2010, corresponding to a 4.4% rise in the world record in two years.

Sabavala art
Monks and hermits are central to
Sabavala's work


The 1968 piece is representative of an important period of transition in Sabavala's work, helping boost its appeal with collectors.

Ranjit Hoskote, the curator of the Indian Pavilion at the 2011 Venice Biennale, commented on the work: "Sabavala had a lifelong fascination with monastic life, and the figures of the monk and the hermit are central to his work. Indeed, he often compared his long, solitary and disciplined hours of work in the studio with a monk's routine of study, prayer, retreat and meditation."

Mehreeen Rizvi, the head of Modern and Contemporary South Asian art at Bonhams, remarked: "We are delighted with this result for Sabavala. It is about time this artist achieved commercial success in the art market to mirror his artistic reputation."

Sabavala's compatriot Maqbool Fida Husain also fared well in the auction, with his The Blue Lady making £97,250 against a pre-sale high valuation of £90,000.

The auction also featured several works by Jamil Naqsh. Pick of the bunch was an untitled work featuring several pigeons, a recurring theme in the Pakistani artist's works. It sold for £43,250.

Take a look at Paul Fraser Collectibles' art investment portfolio here, a superb way to kick start your art collection.

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