Sikh paintings auctioned at Sotheby’s

Sotheby’s is having an auction today in New York of South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art including Miniature painting.jpgPaintings.

Sotheby’s September 2009 auction of South Asian Art features a carefully-curated offering of works by leading modern and contemporary Indian artists, accompanied by an eclectic group of miniature paintings from the Rajput and Punjab Hills courts of northern India, as well as a selection of cutting-edge contemporary art from Pakistan. [Sotheby’s]

Of interest is a 1912 large portrait (approximately 5’x3′) of Guru Gobind Singh Ji estimated at $50,000-$70,000, as well as a miniature of all the Sikh Gurus with Guru Nanak Ji at the center, and a miniature of Maharaja Ranjit Singh on his stallion with weapons, accompanied by foot soldiers.

This large portrait of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, according to a Times of India article, is part of a series of four closely-related paintings depicting Guru Gobind Singh. Apparently each portrait was the inspiration for the next. It’s unclear where in the series this painting belongs or who the painter was, but the last painting in the series is currently on display at Hazur Sahib in Maharashtra and was created by Hari Singh.

Which leads to questions- if the last in the series is at the Hazur Sahib and this is at Sotheby’s, where are the other two? What path have these pieces taken? The works in this collection were probably passed down from one legitimate private owner to another. Perhaps they were commissioned by British officers. I have no evidence of anything otherwise.

But in general, the plunder from wars and violence often ends up on sale somewhere far from its source. The art and artifacts that were lost in Operation Bluestar weren’t inventoried. We don’t even have a way of identifying lost or stolen art in order to make a claim that it rightfully belongs to the community. Perhaps a budding art historian will be interested in a research project… attempting to document artwork remembered as being held at the Darbar Sahib or other sites of looting so that if it shows up on sale, we’ll be able to recover it.

According to a Deputy Director of Sotheby’s, the collector base for miniatures is largely made up of European, British and American collectors. It includes only a small group of NRIs. [TOI] Glad to see that we’re keeping our heritage intact for future generations! 😉


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13 Responses to “Sikh paintings auctioned at Sotheby’s”

  1. SukhJind says:

    The painting sold for a whopping 254,000 dollars. WOW! I wonder who is the owner now?

  2. SukhJind says:

    The painting sold for a whopping 254,000 dollars. WOW! I wonder who is the owner now?

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  6. deon says:

    Sikh workmanship and society is synonymous with that of the Punjab district. The Punjab itself has been called India's blend. Punjabi society and Sikhism are considered connectedly interwoven. They are making a nice pictures for good looking. Present day's we are having the Art Prints For Sale Online. http://www.artsource.ca/

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