New Delhi: Leading Indian contemporary artist S.H. Raza’s most significant work, “Village with Church”, once owned by John D. Rockefeller III, will be auctioned at Sotheby’s in New York. It is estimated at $2 million, the auction house said ahead of the sale late Monday.
Director of Sotheby’s in India, Maithili Parekh, said the oil painting on canvas in 1958 was purchased by the Rockfellers from the Graham Gallery in New York in an exhibition, “Trends in Contemporary Painting in India” in 1958-1959.
“It remained in their collection till 1994. Rockefeller and his wife befriended Raza in the early 1960s while he was at Berkeley as a visiting professor at the University of California, following which he was invited to NYC as a recipient of the Rockefeller Fellowship,” Parekh said.
She added that John and his wife Blanchette were two of the earliest champions of modern Indian paintings in US. “Their patronage and support were key to introducing the work of the Progressive Artist’s Group in US, of which ‘Village with Church’ is a significant example,” she said.
Former representative of the Rockfeller Foundation, Thomas Keehn, who lived in India and befriended many artists from the Progressive Group, went on to organise “8 Painters”, an exhibition of their work held in Delhi in 1956, which included “Village With Church”.
This exhibition later expanded to “Trends In Contemporary Painting In India” and became the first such exhibition ever mounted in US.