Prabha painting exceeds expectations at Bruneau
CRANSTON, R.I. – Paintings by two renowned Indian artists took top lot honors in Bruneau & Co. Auctioneers’ online-only Estate Fine Art & Antique Auction held November 15. A work by B. Prabha (1933-2001), titled Indian Women Painting, soared to $38,750, while a Cubist figural watercolor by Maqbool Fida Husain (1915-2011), of a couple on horseback, realized $10,625.
Both artists have appeared in past Bruneau & Co. auctions. In September, an oil on canvas Cubist painting by Husain, depicting a rider on the back of a wild horse, sold for $43,750. In March 2020, an equestrian-themed watercolor on paper by Husain realized $16,250. In that same auction, a figural oil on canvas by B. Prabha, titled Woman with a Pear Basket, brought $11,875.
The B. Prabha painting in the November auction was the expected top lot, but it still sailed past its $15,000-$20,000 estimate. The work depicted six Indian women walking through a village. It was signed by Prabha’s agent, Nayana Sarmalkar, and came with a certificate of authenticity.
“It’s always nice to see an appreciation for a beautiful painting, as the Prabha soared over the estimate and sold to a collector in Illinois,” said Kevin Bruneau, Bruneau & Co’s president and an auctioneer. The painting was by far the top achieve of the 325+ lots in the auction.
The Husain watercolor depicted a man and woman in bright polychromatic outfits on the back of a white horse, and it sold within estimate. Dubbed “the Picasso of India,” Husain started off painting billboard signs in India but quickly developed his own style by blending together folk, tribal, and mythological arts.
Other highlights from the auction include a mixed-media portrait mounted to canvas, signed by Han Van Meegeren (Netherlands, 1889-1947), depicting a man in a robe clutching his chest as he stares off into the distance. It finished at $5,938. Meegeren was known for his forgeries of famous works by Frans Hals, Pieter de Hooch, Gerard ter Borch and Johannes Vermeer.
A late 19th- or early 20th-century Malles Goyard large rectangular French steamer trunk brought $5,312. The trunk was marked, “Malles Goyard 233 Rue Saint Honore Paris Monte Carlo Biarritz” on a metal tag and “Goyard” on the top of the lid. Each side was initialed “H.C.” in red letters.
A circa-1920 Chinese Art Deco rug measuring 11ft 7in by 9ft 2in and featuring a blue, green, yellow, red and purple pictorial landscape over a red field surrounded by blue borders, sold for $4,062. It, too, easily bested its estimate of $800-$1,200 by about fourfold, despite some minor wear.
The leader among a trio of vintage sideshow banners was titled That Strange Creature Obby Dobby Alive by Fred G. Johnson (American, 1892-1990), who was considered to be the best sideshow circus banner artist in history. The banner featured a large, colorfully painted iguana in a jungle setting. It gaveled for $3,750.
Achieving the same amount was an early 20th-century German-made F & R Enders 4/4 violin, with an interior label marked “F & R Enders Reproduction of Nicholas Gagliano.” The instrument, one of several in the sale, featured a spruce face with an ebonized finger board and chin rest. The back consisted of a single piece of tiger maple.
Bruneau & Co. Auctioneers is always accepting quality consignments for future auctions. To contact Bruneau & Co. Auctioneers about consigning a single piece or an entire collection, you may send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, you can phone them at 401-533-9980.
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