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FN Souza's 'radical' painting of the Pope to go under hammer at Prinseps' first live auction


Press Trust of India New Delhi
A 1961 untitled painting of the Pope by Indian modernist painter Francis Newton Souza will go under the hammer at Mumbai-based auction house Prinseps' first ever live sale on November 17.
The artwork showcasing Souza's unique and radical interpretation of the Papacy (office of the Pope), is among the 25 works featuring in the evening sale that will be conducted by Hugh Edmeades, one of world's leading auctioneers.
"Known world over as one of Christie's (auction house) leading auctioneers, Mr Edmeades will bring his expertise and style to this much anticipated auction," Prinseps said in a statement on Tuesday.
In the work, estimated at Rs 1.20-1.50 crore, Souza paints the pope wearing golden robes, along with other aspects of Papal regalia, except he purposefully leaves the tiara or the mitre out of the frame. Only the filigree is visible.
"The figure's body language makes him come across as grim, and difficult to approach.
"Souza seems to indicate the Pope is not meant to be revered and hints at the corruption in the catholic church," the auction house said.
Also part of the sale will be a rare Bikash Bhattacharjee painting, unseen before on the open market.
The untitled cityscape is estimated at Rs 40-50 lakh.
Jamini Roy's "Nayikas" and an untitled abstract work by Vasudeo S Gaitonde are also estimated at Rs 40-50 lakh each.
The sale will also feature a selection of sculptures from stalwarts of Indian modernism like Dhanraj Bhagat's "Ling Raj" (wood), Somnath Hore's "A Flower Born" (bronze), Akbar Padamsee's "Head" (bronze), and Amarnath Sehgal's "Ganesha" (bronze).
Representing the contemporary end of the lots is Raqib Shaw's 2007 untitled mixed media work on paper produced in the Calcutta-born artist's signature style of textural experimentation and fantastical imagery.
The work is inspired by Dutch painter Hieronymous Bosch's iconic fifteenth century triptych.
"Shaw's painting - a mix of contemporary materials such as glitter, crystal, enamel and industrial paints - is a 21st century homage to the visionary Bosch," Prinseps said.
An album of 58 albumen prints (a method of producing photographic print using albumen found in egg whites) by Deen Dayal, originally commissioned for the Nizam of Hyderabad in 1888 is also of note.
This is a rare occasion where the late-19th century photographer's prints are being auctioned as a complete album.
The auction will be preceded by previews at The Leela Palace in New Delhi on November 2, and at the Taj Art Gallery in Mumbai from November 13-16.

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First Published: Oct 29 2019 | 7:55 PM IST

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