Lot 58
  • 58

Sayed Haider Raza

80,000 - 120,000 GBP
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  • Sayed Haider Raza
  • Church at Meulan
  • Signed 'Raza '56' upper right

    Bearing The American Federation of Arts label on reverse

  • Oil on board
  • 91.5 by 72.4 cm. (36 by 28 ½ in.)
  • Painted in 1956


Graham Gallery, New York, circa 1959

Acquired from Galerie Lara Vincy, Paris, 1960s

Thence by descent


Trends in Contemporary Painting from India;

Graham Gallery,  New York: 10 - 26 February 1959          

American University, Washington, D.C.: 8 - 29 March 1959   

West Virginia Institute of Technology, Montgomery, West Virginia: 7 - 28 April 1959

Speed Museum, Louisville, Kentucky: 5 - 25 July 1959       

Dorothy Yepez Gallery, Saranac Lake, New York: 25 August - 5 September 1959

SUNY, Oswego, New York: 10 - 30 October 1959

Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan: 4 - 25 January 1960

Eastern Tennessee State College, Johnson City, Tennessee: 6- 27 February 1960                                       

Denison University, Granville, Ohio: 3- 23 March 1960

Chatham College, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: 12 April - 3 May 1960

Asia Society, New York, 1962


There is craquelure present particularly in areas of thicker impasto. There are minor abrasions and rubbing along the edges of the work due to contact with the frame. Very minor areas in the lower half of the painting have been consolidated. This work has been recently cleaned and lightly varnished and is in good overall condition, as viewed.
"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. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

This resplendent painting was included in the seminal exhibition, Trends in Contemporary Painting from India, organised by Mr and Mrs. Thomas and Martha Keehn and co-sponsored by The American Federation of Arts and Asia Society. The exhibition travelled to prominent institutions and galleries throughout the United States between March 1959 and March 1960. The painting was shown alongside works by MF Husain, VS Gaitonde, Krishen Khanna, Ram Kumar, Akbar Padamsee, Mohan Samant and FN Souza.

In 1950, 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, Cezanne and Van Gogh, who were major sources of inspiration to him. He admired how such artists used colour to structure their paintings. 'For the next fifteen years, Raza was to work doggedly, persistently, with great strength and determination, inspired primarily by the formal construction of Cezanne and the passionate exploration of colour by Van Gogh. His medium changed from gouache in tempera to impasto in oil, signifying a major breakthrough with the paint coming into its own.' (Y. Dalmia, The Making of Modern Indian Art: The Progressives, New Delhi, 2001, p. 151) 

Whilst in Paris, Raza achieved commercial success; he initially exhibited with Padamsee and Souza at Galerie St. Placide in 1952 followed by an exhibition at Galerie Creuz in 1953 and from 1955 to 1971, Raza exhibited exclusively with Galerie Lara Vincy. The same year Church at Meulan was painted, Raza was awarded the prestigious Prix de La Critique. This award gave Raza international recognition and lead to him being invited to exhibit at the Venice, Brussels and Sao Paulo Biennales as well as exhibitions in Tokyo, London, USA and Canada.

Jacques Lassaignes, the director of the Museum of Modern Art in Paris, wrote of his work from this period 'The seeming difference between his canvases of today and his gouaches of yesterday corresponds to the transition from one technique, in which lightness of touch is everything, to another, richer and more complex, which calls for all the resources at the artist's command... Pure forms take shapes no longer in the void, but in revelatory contrast with their surroundings, in light that exults, doubly bright, against the opacity that threatens it.' (A. Vajpeyi, A Life in Art: S.H. Raza, Art Alive Gallery, New Delhi, 2007, p.73).

Raza later moved to Provence, where he became inspired by the French countryside.'The landscape with its trees, mountains, villages, and churches became his staple diet” (Y. Dalmia, 2001 p.152). Dalmia describes a similar work painted the following year 'the black steeple and charred roofs burn in their intensity against a smouldering orange sky' (ibid.) In the artist's own words "... the chapels, churches and crosses (of the French countryside) touched me very deeply, 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, Delhi, 2000, p. 37).