Van Gogh, Picasso, Dali on online sale

New Delhi:Works by Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Salvador Dali and Henry Moore, all top selling international artists, figure in the first western art sale by India`s biggest online auction house, Saffronart.

Vincent van Gogh`s "Lane With Two Figures" a landscape painting done by the Dutch artist in 1885, five years before he died leads in the first ever auction of Impressionist and modern western art in India that feature a total of 73 works by 35 artists.

Priced between Rs 4 crores and Rs 5 crores, the van Gogh oil on canvas masterpiece laid down on panel and sourced from a private collection is the highlight of the auction which is estimated to rake in sales between Rs14.8 crore (USD 3.3 million) to Rs19.8 crore (USD4.2 million). The auction is scheduled to be conducted online at the Saffronart portal on February 15-16, 2012 with previews at the auction house`s galleries in New Delhi and Mumbai and final sales happening in New York.

"Over the past 10 years there has been a growing awareness of the international art market among art collectors in India. The recent art fair here has been so impressive with western galleries like Hauser & Wirth participating for the first time. Indians have been travelling more and looking at art outside," says art expert Sophie Camu who is a consultant for the upcoming auction. Currently, says Camu there are only very few Indian collectors who own a Picasso or a Rodin, with a bulk of Indians focussing on collecting Indian artists.

At the just concluded India art fair there was strong sales of Indian and international contemporary art with price range of individual works of art ranging from Rs 55,000 to over Rs 60 lakh with a strong presence of galleries from around the world showcasing global artists.

Artists featured in the auction are from the period 1860-1970 featuring the Impressionist movements from the 19th century and later art movements like surrealism, fauvism and pop art. While the impressionists used vivid colours, thick application of paint, distinctive brush strokes, and real-life subject matter. One work by the grand masters of Impressionism, Camile Pissarro has been estimated between Rs 1 crore and Rs 1.4 crore at the auction.

The provenance of the oil on canvas "The Edge on Wood" signed and dated 1867 by the artist has been listed in the catalogue as Galerie Romanet in Paris and acquired by a private collection in Switzerland prior to 1960.

"We have seen an evolving interest by Indian collectors in western art in the last four to five years so decided to hold auction of western art. Indian collectors also seem to prefer names that they are familiar with. We feel it is an early trend and are optimistic about it," says Nish Bhutani COO, Saffronart. The auction house founded in 2000 has been focussing on modern and indian contemporary art works till now.

The upcoming auction includes several works by Pablo Picasso, including an oil painting titled Le Transformateur of 1953 and estimated at Rs 2 crore- Rs 2.25 crore.  By the late 1940s, Picasso`s fame was widespread and he was the confirmed master of western art. He moved to the small town of Vallauris in the south of France and a time of success, contentment and stability in his family life set in.

He continued to paint and draw obsessively, depicting his wife and children but also the lush surroundings and houses near his villa. A selection of 6 ceramics by Picasso is also featured in the sale.

Marc Chagall, celebrated as one of the greatest painters of the 20th century features in the auction with a very large and watercolour called "Stairway to Heaven" estimated at Rs 1.4 crore to Rs 1.75 crore executed when the artist was 92 years old. It features some of Chagall`s most iconic symbols, including the artist lying before his easel while figures float above him.

Conor Macklin, director Grosvenor Gallery in London and a specialist in western and Indian art for the past 12 years says, " There is a tremendous reach of saffronart and wouldn`t be surprised if Indian collectors who haven`t bee targeted by London or New York based galleries respond to the current auction."

Macklin points out that the upcoming auction of international art in Indian market is a "fantastic introduction." "It will give collectors a wider range of choice if they want to start an art collection with Picasso or some well known western artist and then maybe later move on Indian artists like Raza or Souza if they want to," says Macklin. The Saffronart sale will also have on offer works by two of the most recognised sculptors, Henry Moore, and Lynn Chadwick.