29 April 2015

Standing the test of time

On the 167th birth anniversary of Raja Ravi Varma - the pioneer of Indian modern art, Ankush Dadha, director of Bid & Hammer, speaks on the lasting appeal of his style and how to differentiate between lesser known and fake works.
Source: Deccan Chronicle, 29 April 2015 / The Asian Age, 30 April 2015

11 April 2015

Saving the "same" Nandalal from an unauthentic story

It is very unfortunate that the following news report that was published by Vandana Kalra in the Indian Express was unverified and misconceived with the intention of sensationalising a story, as will become evident from the facts below:

"The 'same' Nandalal hangs in NGMA, goes under the hammer" -

  • First, the work at the NGMA is not the “same” as the work in the Bid & Hammer catalogue – the work in the catalogue had a distinct colour palette and size difference (it was larger) and was without a monogram.
  • Second, Nandalal Bose did not print a monogram on all his works.
  • Third, it is very well known that not only Nandalal Bose but also many other artists including Raja Ravi Varma have painted versions of the same work. “Shiva drinking world poison” by Nandalal Bose had many versions one of which is in the NGMA.
  • Fourth, if the work in the catalogue had to be a fake, it would have been an exact replica.
  • Fifth, a case of forgery would be something like what happened in the case of artist Ajoy Ghose, when two of his award winning works were passed of as Nandalal Bose’s works, by Christies in their auction. His signature had been replaced with a scrawl depicting Nandalal’s name. Subsequently, the sale had to be revoked. (Source: India Today)

                                The woman sitting under a tree - Nandalal Bose
Comparison between the two versions: (L) in NGMA collection and (R) in B&H auction  

                                         Shiva drinking world poison - Nandalal Bose
Comparison between the three versions

                                  Ajoy Ghose passed off as Nandalal Bose
Christies Auction, Source: India Today

The following comments and excerpts from independent publications and scholars reiterate, to a large extent, the above-mentioned clarifications on the work titled 'The woman sitting under a tree': 

"The auction will also offer ‘important works from the estate of Nandalal Bose,’ and it is one of the works of this eminent Bengal School artist that has now become the focus of a controversy. It has been said that the painting listed as being auctioned is similar to a painting, which is part of the Nandalal Bose collection at the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi. The only difference being that the one being auctioned is in full colour while the painting at NGMA is in monochrome. I believe it is pertinent to mention here, that artists are known for doing a sketch first in monochrome and later, if they are happy with the outcome, to repeat the same subject in colour."
- Shona Adhikari, The Financial Chronicle, 23rd June 2014

6 April 2015

RAJA RAVI VARMA & the curious case of Suruchi Chand

Around the time of Bid & Hammer's 'Significant Indian Paintings' auction in 2010, Delhi Art Gallery (DAG) / Kishore Singh published the following comments on Raja Ravi Varma's works that were on offer (besides making several more imprudent statements on other works):

DAG / Kishore Singh: "Raja Ravi Varma works attributed to the master require much more due diligence by way of provenance." 
- Extract from Business Standard, 1st Dec 2010, publication 'The Curious Case of Suruchi Chand'

B&H replies: "The Ravi Varma paintings came with a detailed and unimpeachable provenance running into several lines and covering decades of ownership, including the Archaeological Survey of India’s (ASI) registration details."
- Extract from Business Standard, 5th Jan 2011, publication ‘Suruchi Chand Revisited’

VERDICT: The Ravi Varma works in the auction catalogue got sold including the 'Jatayu Vadha', with the court allowing Bid & Hammer's recovery suit and upholding its expertise on authenticity, apart from re-validating the credibility of the provenance documents.
The decisive judgment was delivered by the High Court of Karnataka appointed arbitrator on 12th Dec 2014.
Details can be viewed in the following news articles:
1. Bid & Hammer wins historic recovery suit against HCL founder's wife Kiran Nadar's 'fake art' propaganda
2. Landmark authenticity case in India finds in favour of the auction house