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FN Souza's 'Birth' fetches record $4 million at Christie's

Appreciation: The same painting was sold for $2.5 million in June 2008

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‘Birth’ a painting by FN Souza. This has been a good month for Souza with another of his paintings ‘Man and Woman Laughing’ (1957) selling for $2.5 million
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'Birth', a canvas by modern India master FN Souza, has set a new record as the most expensive Indian painting sold in an auction, fetching $4.085 million at a Christie's auction in New York on Thursday.

Interestingly, this very painting had sold for $2.5 million at a Christie's auction in June 2008, which had then been a record price for a work of modern Indian art. The private collector who'd then bought it and consigned it for sale again in this auction thus saw a healthy 63% appreciation in the value of his purchase.

Birth, a large, 4 feet x nearly 8 feet, painting is considered one of the most important paintings ever made by the Goan-born artist who moved to London in the 1950s and lived there until his death in 2002, painted. It was painted in 1955 and included in his first solo show at the Gallery One in London.

This has been a good month for Souza with another of his paintings 'Man and Woman Laughing' (1957) selling for $ 2,590,769 (Rs16,84,00,000).

The Indian art market, especially the modernist masters such as Souza, SH Raza, Tyeb Mehta, MF Husain seem to be getting out of the slump, with prices being regularly breached every few years. The earlier record had been held by VS Gaitonde's 'Untitled' painting which had sold for $3.7 million at Christie's inaugural India auction in December 2013.

Of course, it doesn't bear comparison with the kind of prices that modern artists from the West fetch at auction. In May this year, just one painting - Pablo Picasso's painting, 'The Women of Algiers (Version 0)' - sold for $179,365 million at a Christie's auction in New York.

Most expensive Indian paintings

1. 'Birth' by FN Souza sold for $4,085,000 at Christie's sale Sept 17, 2015

2. 'Untitled' by VS Gaitonde sold for $3.7 million at Christie's inaugural India auction Dec, 2013

3. 'Saurashtra' by SH Raza sold for $3,486,965 at Christie's London in June 2010

4. 'Untitled (figure on Rickshaw) by Tyeb Mehta sold for $3.24 million at Christie's London sale in June 2011

5. 'Birth' by FN Souza sold for $2.5 million at Christie's sale June 11, 2008

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