The legacy of Indian artists Bhanu Athaiya and Atul Bose lives on at Prinseps’s auction

Mumbai-based Prinseps Auction House & Gallery recently hosted their groundbreaking virtual auctions of the Bhanu Athaiya and Atul Bose Estates. Both auctions broke records for the highest value works sold for both artists. Hosted live on Zoom by auctioneer Brijeshwari Kumari Gohil, the two auctions saw bids from across India, Dubai, UK and the US. The Bhanu Athaiya Estate Sale auction totaled ₹88 lakhs and the Atul Bose Evening Sale totaled 1.64 crores.

Atul Bose’s art titled Studio Corner, a 1926 oil on canvas, sold for ₹ 43,75,000

Bhanu Rajopadhye Athaiya, the only Indian woman to bag an Oscar for Richard Attenborough’s 1982 classic Gandhi, passed away at 91 in October this year. The Bhanu Athaiya Estate Sale, which included includes the late artist’s oil paintings and studies from the ’40s and ’50s, saw strong interest across the board with a particularly excited flurry of bids for the watercolor paintings. The top lot went to the cover lot Prayers, which sold for ₹43,75,000, acquired by one of India’s prominent art collectors, who requested to be anonymous.

Bhanu Athaiya’s Prayers which sold for ₹43,75,000

The Atul Bose Estate Sale saw another spectacular evening for Prinseps. The star of the evening was a painting titled Studio Corner, a 1926 oil on canvas, which went under the hammerat ₹ 43,75,000, almost 20 lakhs over the upper estimate. Other noteworthy sales included a portrait of Rabindranath Tagore (1976), which sold for ₹27,50,000 and an oil on canvas painting titled Sphinx (1926), which went under the hammer at ₹17,50,000. The portrait of Rabindranath Tagore had been a gift from the artist to Bengal’s first Governor after Independence, hence carrying a strong legacy with it.

A portrait of Rabindranath Tagore (1976), which sold for ₹27,50,000

Commenting on the auctions, Indrajit Chatterjee, Founder of Prinseps said, “We are delighted with the result of both the Bhanu Athaiya and Atul Bose estate auctions. The results reaffirm our belief in the value of presenting hidden gems from the art historical canon and beyond. These sales are the culmination of a huge amount of meticulous research on our part, which was elevated by the brilliant catalogue essays by Prof. Partha Mitter and Ranjit Hoskote, which are certain to go down as important documentation for posterity. This was also our first virtual auction, conducted expertly by Brijeshwari Kumari Gohil, who was joining us from her ancestral home in Bhavnagar, Gujarat. We are also grateful to the trust placed in us by the Athaiya family, whose faith and support made the landmark Bhanu Athaiya sale possible.”

(Information and pictures courtesy — Prinseps Auction House)