Moti masjid painting sold for USD 3.1 million

New York: A giant painting of New Delhi`s famous Moti masjid, the most accomplished work of Russian artist Vasili Vasilievich Vereshchagin`s, fetched a whopping USD 3.1 million at a Sotheby`s auction here. The monumental work "Pearl Mosque at Delhi" – measuring approximately 13 by 16 feet – was sold yesterday at the auction of Russian art by the Sotheby`s.

The painting depicting men kneeling for prayers at the mosque was offered by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, along with seven other works and had pre-sale estimate ranging from USD 3-5 million. The painting, which is inside the Red Fort in Delhi, has been put on display in Sotheby`s York Avenue galleries on October 26.

The work by the Russian painter Vereshchagin`s Indian collection is considered to be one of his most significant works to appear at auction in more than 100 years. At the launch of the pre-auction exhibition Sonya Bekkerman, head of Sotheby`s Russian paintings department said, "We are thrilled to offer this true masterwork from the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts."  The auctioneers said that the proceeds would benefit the museum`s acquisition fund.

"Beyond its astonishing size, the pearl mosque at Delhi represents pure painterly perfection. For an artist made famous by his provocative images of war, the work showcases Vereshchagin`s supreme versatility, and underscores his position as one of the leading visual historians of the 19th century," Bekkerman said.

Vereshchagin, considered one of the most famous of Russian painters, embarked on a two-year journey to India in 1874 with his wife. His Indian series features numerous depictions of architectural monuments, all of which he realistically captured with painstaking attention to detail.