Lot 25
  • 25

Sayed Haider Raza

600,000 - 800,000 USD
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  • Sayed Haider Raza
  • Rajasthan I
  • Signed and dated 'Raza/ '83' lower right, signed, dated and inscribed 'Raza/ 152x152cms/ 1983/ "RAJASTHAN" I' and further inscribed 'Herwitz Collection' on reverse
  • Acrylic on canvas
  • 60 by 60 in. (152.4 by 152.4 cm.)


Contemporary Indian Paintings from the Chester and Davida Herwitz Collection, Sotheby's New York, 5 December 2000, lot 102


Washington D.C., The Phillips Collection, Indian Art Today - 4 Artists from the Chester and Davida Herwitz Family Collection, 1986

Geneva, Switzerland, Edition Halle Sud, Coups de Coeur, 1987


Cornu, R., Coups de Coeur, Geneva, 1987, p. 90 illus.


Good overall condition. Slight drips of paint lower right quadrant, appear to be original to the application of the paint.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

In this iconic painting from the 1980s, Sayed Haider Raza brings together his influences from France and India to represent an ultimate depiction of nature. Raza has stated, "sometime between 1975 and 1980, I began to feel the draw of my Indian heritage. I thought: I come from India, I have a different vision; I should incorporate what I have learned in France with Indian concepts. In this period, I visited India every year to study Indian philosophy, iconography, magic diagrams (yantras), and ancient Indian art, particularly Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain art. I was impressed by paintings from Basholi, Malwa, and Mewar, and began combining colours in a manner that echoed Indian miniature painting." (Raza in conversation with Amrita Jhaveri, Sotheby’s Preview, March/April 2007, p.57).

One of the founding members of the Bombay Progressives, Raza left for Paris in 1950 on a scholarship from the Alliance Francaise. Whilst in Paris he was exposed to and influenced by the Post-Impressionists and in particular the work of Cezanne who he greatly admired for his ability to construct form through colour. He later moved to Provence, Cezanne country, where he embraced the beauty of the rural French countryside through his work. '... the landscape with its trees, mountains, villages and churches became his staple diet.' (Yashodhara Dalmia, The Making of Modern Indian Art, The Progressives, New Delhi, 2001, p. 152).

Rajasthan I is a painting from a high point in Raza's oeuvre that illustrates his progression towards total abstraction, and the geometry born from the precepts of Hindu philosophy. Like Saurasthra, another work from this series, his paintings from this time are clearly influenced by his interest in the Indian miniature tradition not just in composition but also in palette. In the current work the flaming colours pulsate across the canvas depicting the rhythms of nature. Like Souza and Husain, Raza was first exposed to the mastery of Indian miniature painting and sculpture at the 1947 Royal Academy exhibition that toured Delhi and Bombay. "Even at that early age - I must have been about 24 or 25 - I thought there was something extremely important in the Mughal miniatures, Rajput paintings, Jain miniatures and, of course, Indian sculpture." (Sayed Haider Raza and Ashok Vajpeyi, Passion: Life and Art of Raza, New Delhi, 2005. p. 37). He was intrigued by the way Rajput painters used colour structurally, not naturalistically, to create vistas of palace compounds, gardens, forests, and hills. (Yashodhara Dalmia, Journeys: Four Generations of Indian Artists in Their Own Words, 2 vols., New Delhi, 2011, p. 52).

Rajasthan becomes a metaphor for the colours of India: of vibrant greens and vermilion and ochres, as also blacks. Rajasthan is the mapping out of a metaphorical space in the mind which is then enclosed with a broad border in bold vermilion - as also happens to be the case in Rajput paintings from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The image becomes thus enshrined as an icon, a sacred geography.’ (Geeti Sen, Bindu: Space and Time in Raza's Vision, New Delhi, 1997, p. 98).