Lot 33
  • 33

SAYED HAIDER RAZA | Ville Provençale

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  • Sayed Haider Raza
  • Ville Provençale 
  • Signed and dated 'RAZA'56' lower right and further bearing a distressed label with 'NOM - RAZA / PRENOM - SAYED / ADRESSE [sic] - Galerie Lara Vincy - / 47 rue de Seine, / Paris, 6e, France. / "VILLE PROVENҪALE' as well as  'XXVIII. Biennale Internazionnale d’Arte di Venezia – 1956 / 921' label on reverse
  • Oil on canvas 
  • 41¼ x 78⅞ in. (104.7 x 200.4 cm.)
  • Painted in 1956


Galerie Lara Vincy                                                                                           
Private French Collection
Cornette de Saint-Cyr, 23 October 2010, Lot 1


Venice, XXVIII. Biennale Internazionnale d’Arte di Venezia, June - October 1956


A. Vajpeyi, Raza, Bookwise (India) Pvt. Ltd., 2010, unpaginated

Catalogue Note

In 1950, Sayed Haider Raza left for Paris with a bursary from the French Government to study at the École Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris. This was Raza's first experience of France, which would later become his second home. During his time in Paris, Raza was exposed to the Post-Impressionist artists, in particular, Paul Cézanne and Vincent Van Gogh, who were major sources of inspiration to him. He admired how such artists used color to structure their paintings, and indeed Raza's works throughout the 1950s echo the same formalism that was a hallmark of both these artists. A product of his Indian heritage and formal art training, Raza’s work is a unique hybridisation of Parisian post-war modernism and the vibrancy and direct color treatment of a Rajput miniature. Whilst in Paris, Raza achieved great commercial success. Having first exhibited with Padamsee and Souza at Galerie St. Placide in 1952, this was followed by a show at Galerie Creuze in 1953. From 1955 to 1971, Raza exhibited exclusively with Galerie Lara Vincy. The present work, Ville Provenҫale, is a bold, large-scale oil painting, made while he worked under the gallery’s patronage.
1956, the same year Ville Provenҫale was painted, was a seminal year for the artist’s career. Raza was awarded the prestigious Prix de La Critique, an award which gave the artist international recognition and lead to him to hold an historic show at the Musée d'Art Moderne, Paris. He was also invited to exhibit at the Venice, Brussels and São Paulo Biennales, and to give exhibitions in Tokyo, London, USA and Canada.

Ville Provenҫale is one of the most monumental and significant paintings by Raza to appear on the market for several reasons. Most notably, it was included in the 1956 Venice Biennale to which Raza was invited to participate. Distinguished by its vivid, primary colors, this semi-abstracted view of Parisian garrets and rooftops rendered on a deep, impasto-heavy background and set against a burnt umber sky, is the biggest work from the 1950s ever to be offered at auction. From its illustrious beginnings at the renowned Galerie Lara Vincy, to its exhibition history at the Venice Biennale, this painting is a masterpiece; not only for crystallizing the highly important year of its creation, but also for its function as a testament to the enduring legacy of one of the foremost pioneers of Indian modern art.