Lot 7
  • 7

Jamini Roy

15,000 - 20,000 GBP
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  • Jamini Roy
  • Untitled (Krishna with Parrot)
  • Signed in Bengali lower right
  • Tempera on canvas
  • 96.5 by 51 cm. (38 by 20 in.)


Given by the artist to E. M. Forster, 20 March 1947
Collection of Bob Buckingham
Acquired by the current owner from a descendant of Bob Buckingham


There is apparent staining across the surface of the work, particularly around the edges of the painting. There is paint loss in several areas, particularly on the figure's head, the right arm and the right leg, as well as and the lower left corner of the painting, with what appears to be some retouching. There are minor scattered losses, scratches and abrasions throughout. The canvas is loose in the stretcher and would benefit from re-stretching, strengthening and a surface clean. There are scuffs overall 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

E.M. Forster (1879 – 1970), the distinguished English novelist whose most famous work was titled A Passage to India, visited India for the third and last time in 1945. Following a conference in Jaipur, Forster headed to Calcutta where he spent ten days escorted by Ahmed Ali the writer and author of Twilight in Delhi whom he first met in London. (P.N. Furbank, E.M. Forster: A Life, Vol. II, Secker & Warburg, London, 1978, p.261). In a letter dated November 14, 1945, Forster writes to Jack Sprott, a young man he met from his Cambridge days, of his visit to Jamini Roy's studio. (W. Moffat, E. M. Forster: A New Life, Bloomsbury, London) Forster recounts: "I got around to some studios though. The prolific Jamini Roy, of whom perhaps you should have heard, and the Calcutta Art Group..." (King's College Cambridge. WJHS/1/28/19 [excerpt]). Forster became friends with Jamini Roy and on his return to London the writer inaugurated an exhibition of Roy's paintings at the Arcade Gallery, organised by John Irwin and the India Society (P. Mitter, The Triumph of Modernism, India's artists and the avant-garde 1922-1947, London, 2007, p.110-111). This painting was presented to Forster in London on March 20th, 1947. The following day, Forster wrote to his lifelong friend Christopher Isherwood in a letter dated March 21, 1947: "A present of a large picture by Jamini Roy of a boy, perhaps a farmer, perhaps a god (Kama?) holding a parrot with his legs rather apart. “Fancy meeting those eyes in the dark!” cried little Mrs. Bolton. The picture has brought excitement and freedom to (me) in a way you may understand. It is something of my own, and it represents the goodness of India. The painter gave it me because I once admired it in his studio in Calcutta and did not say so: I talked about it in London and he heard of this." (The Huntington Library. Christopher Isherwood Papers, CI 846).

A similar blue boy with bird is illustrated in Sona Datta's publication on Jamini Roy (S. Datta, Urban Patua, The Art of Jamini Roy, Marg Publications, Mumbai, 2010, p.84). However the current lot is rare in that it is on canvas. As Datta states Roy's rendering of his figures from this period were inspired by the artist's appreciation of the Santhal tribes people of Bengal who 'represented for Roy an apogee of the rustic ideal' (ibid., p.85). W.G. Archer discusses how Roy's 'repeated recourse to Santal figures with nobility and pride proves how keenly he valued their moral qualities... a response by him to such qualities accounts in part for the more mature style which marks his work from about 1931 onwards.' (W.G. Archer, India and Modern Art, George Allen & Unwin Ltd., London, 1959, p.107). This particular painting was certainly cherished by Forster as it was given to his long term friend and companion, Bob Buckingham.