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Peacock In Art Auction By Bid and Hammer

The collection includes works from greats such as Maqbool Fida Husain to Bohemian glass-maker Loetz

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Includes paintings by M F Husain, Jamini Roy, F M Soofi and Devaki Nandan Sharma

The Peacock originated from the Indian sub-continent and has been an integral part of our ancient folklore and over the centuries its elegance has transcended the globe. It is a symbol of grace, pristine beauty and strength. No wonder artists across genres, cultures and geographies have been inspired by and indulged in depicting the Peacock in their creations. To showcase the fascination for this subject in art, auction house Bid & Hammer have put together a unique blend of paintings, miniatures, jewellery and glass in an auction aptly titled ‘Ostentatious Peacocks’. The collection includes works from greats such as Maqbool Fida Husain to Bohemian glass-maker Loetz.

One of the highlights of this online sale is an oil on board by Fakir Mohammed Soofi depicting a pride of rare ‘white peacocks’, a leitmotif of spirituality, inner-light, rebirth and even nirvana. An unsung hero of Indian art, F M Soofi specialized in animal compositions amidst their natural habitats and landscapes. He was an alumnus of the Chamarajendra Technical Institute, Mysore and a recipient of the Lalitkala Academy award in 1982 and the Karnataka Rajyotsava award in 1984.

Another highlight is a Bengal folk-style rendition of a peacock by Jamini Roy, one of the "Nine Masters" whose works the Ministry of Culture declared as National Art Treasure in 1976 “having regard to their artistic and aesthetic value".

A museum quality lot in this ostentation of peacocks is the miniature scroll demonstrating Queen Trishala’s Fourteen Dreams, before the birth of her son Mahavira, the twenty-fourth and the last Jain Tirthankar or god (6th century BC). The visual imagery of a pair of Indian blue peacocks at the start of the narration establishes the reverence and purity attached to the ‘National Bird of India’. This certified antiquity is dated precisely 1782 AD and is an invitation for Jain muni’s. A collector’s item, it is seventeen-feet long with origins in Rajasthan. On quizzed as to how is one to display such an item, a spokesperson for the auction house, said “ A box frame can be customized in which the scroll can be rolled up to display one painting at a time as per the clients choice”. To get an idea of the enormous scale of the work, a video of this lot can be viewed on the social media accounts of the auction house.

Almost as if serendipitously, right from the high on impasto ‘Rajasthan series with two peacocks’ by M F Husain from the 1960’s, to a painting on silk-cloth by the globally recognized bird artist from Jaipur - Prof. Devaki Nandan Sharma, to a silver necklace of sixteen peacock shaped lockets from rural Marwar, the association of Rajasthan with the peacock is something one cannot miss out in the ecatalogue. When probed if it was intentionally curated, the spokesperson quipped “after all the bird is found in abundance in the royal desert state, but the sourcing was just coincidental”.

There are a total of ten lots in the auction. Elaborating on this, Ankush Dadha, director, B&H, said “It doesn’t take away from the significance of the auction, which can be considered a teaser for more such specialized and thoughtfully curated sales in the future, including perhaps more editions on the Peacock”. This is the direction Bid & Hammer seems to have taken over the last few years with different formats of sales such as ‘Auction of the Day’, ‘Auction of the Week’, ‘Silent Bids’ and ‘No-Reserve Auctions’. Dadha further added “The aim was to keep the focus on each of the lots whether big or small and conduct more frequent auctions”. These day sales comprised paintings of Arpita Singh, Subodh Gupta, Bhupen Khakhar, Prabhakar Barwe and other leading names in Contemporary & Modern Indian Art. Canvases by Jamil Naqsh, Sadequain and George Varlamos were also on offer in the south-Asian and international art category. Specialist auctions of Antiquarian Books have also been carried out including from the library of Robert & Maria Travis.

Live Auctions are not entirely off the agenda for Bid & Hammer as they continue to keep the collectors engaged with exclusive Private Sales in between auctions. For now you can register online and participate in this auction on 28th March 2023 through the website and mobile app.

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