NEW YORK – Sayed Haider Raza, one of India’s most prominent modern artists, describes his work as follows, “I wanted my paintings to express the feeling of fervor and human tension that burned within me.” (M. Imbert, Raza: An Introduction to his Painting, Rainbow Publishers Ltd., New Delhi, 2003, p. 37). This lifelong passion for true expression is arrestingly captured in Mistral, a highlight of our upcoming Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art auction on 15 March 2016 in New York.

In 1950, Raza, with a bursary from the French Government, left India to study at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Prior to this, he had met Henri Cartier-Bresson, who was visiting India in the 1940s and whose advice struck a deep chord with the young artist. 


SAYED HAIDER RAZA, MISTRAL, 1960. ESTIMATE $ 200,000-300,000. 

Painted in 1960, Mistral reveals the artist’s captivation with the French countryside and his intent to capture its essence in all its varying moods and forms. Its title is derived from the strong northwesterly winds that blow through the valleys of southern France in the late winter. Heavy with impastos of greens and blacks and accented with brilliant red and yellow strokes, the painting is undeniably expressionistic and depicts the landscape with dynamism. Some of Raza’s most iconic works belong to this genre, for example Church at Meulan (1956). Raza’s Indian background remained essential to his practice and is seen in his preference for vibrant, saturated colours. 


SAYED HAIDER RAZA, CHURCH AT MEULAN, 1956. SOLD AT SOTHEBY’S LONDON FOR $331,886. 

Mistral was originally acquired from Galerie Lara Vincy, which today is the most sought-after provenance for the artist. Madame Lara Vincy’s role in launching Raza’s global career cannot be understated. The gallery faithfully represented and promoted Raza’s works amongst its international clientele since its doors opened in 1955. Raza’s career flourished, and with Vincy’s guidance, he became the first non-French artist to receive the revered Prix de la critique in 1956.


NEWSPAPER CLIPPING FEATURING MADAME LARA VINCY AND HER DAUGHTER LILIANE WITH GALLERY ARTISTS, INCLUDING SAYED HAIDER RAZA (AT FAR RIGHT).

With its rich, vibrant colour palette and gilded provenance, Mistral represents the best of Raza’s paintings from the 1960s and would be a trophy in any collection.

Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art

15 March 2016 | New York