Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art / Jamini Roy (Indian, 1887-1972) Untitled (Jesus with Mary & Magdalene)
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Gifted to Professor Ahmed Ali by the artist in 1947-48 before Ahmed Ali left for the National University in China as the British Council's visiting professor;
Inherited from the above by the vendor.
FOR THE FRONT PAGE OF THIS COLLECTION
The Collection of Orooj Ahmed Ali
Orooj Ahmed Ali, is a collector, dealer, consultant, curator and promoter of art, both locally and abroad. Featured twice in Nigaah magazine, first in 2012 as an art collector and then in 2016 as one of the 50 Most influential people in Pakistani Art, it is unsurprising to learn that he has been immersed in the world of art since his childhood. His mother, Bilquis Jehan Begum (1926-1985) was a musician, writer, and artist, who painted figures, abstract, and surreal subjects, in a vibrant and Impressionist style whilst his father, Professor Ahmed Ali, was a novelist, poet, critic, and diplomat, who was deeply involved in the cultural scene of pre and post partition India and Pakistan, and befriended writers and artists, including, E. M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, Edward Thomson, from the Bloomsbury Group, Han Su Yin, Jamini Roy and Zainul Abedin. Sadequain had great regard for him; and Qi Bai Shi, the Chinese master painter, also knew him during his second stay in China (1950-52).
Despite being surrounded by antiques and antiquities, it was only in 2004 that Orooj began to collect and deal in art professionally, having spent the early part of his life working as an exporter and manufacturer of terry fabrics, and representing Pakistan at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 1987 and 1990 as a literary agent and publisher. Since then, he has successfully helped clients sell their collections, which included works by artists such as Sadequain, Shakir Ali, Zubeda Agha, Bashir Mirza, Ahmed Parvez, Gulgee, Anna Molka, Jamil Naqsh, Hamidur Rehman, and S M Sultan, to name but a few. The works being offered from Orooj's collection include works by some of Pakistan's, India's, and Bangladesh's finest artists, and Bonhams is honoured to have this opportunity to present them.
AHMED ALI (1st July 1910-14th January 1994)
Novelist, poet, critic, diplomat, distinguished scholar and co-founder of the All India Progressive Writers' Movement, Ahmed Ali was born in Delhi in 1910. A pioneer of the modern Urdu short story, some of his notable works include: Angarey (Embers), 1932 Hamari Gali (Our Lane), 1940; Qaid Khana (The Prison House), 1942; and Maut Se Pehle (Before Death), 1945. Equally accomplished in English, he achieved international fame with his first English novel, Twilight in Delhi, published by the Hogarth Press, London, 1940, which describes the decline of the Muslim aristocracy with the advance of British colonialism in the early 20th century. He was educated at the universities of Aligarh and Lucknow and later taught at both, amongst other universities, including Presidency College, Calcutta, where he was the Head of the English department between 1932-1947. Between 1942-1945 he was also the BBC's representative and Director Listener Research in India, and was later appointed by the British Government of India as the British Council's Visiting Professor of English to the National Central University of China, Nanking (now Nanjing).
Ahmed Ali moved to Pakistan from China in 1948. Joining the Pakistan Foreign Service, he established diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China as Pakistan's first envoy to Peking (now Beijing), 1950-52, and later with the Kingdom of Morocco. A skilled translator from the Arabic, Indonesian, and Chinese, in addition to Urdu, he is also well known for his English translation of the Qur'an: Al-Qur'an, A Contemporary Translation, Princeton University Press, which is recognized by Islamic scholars as one of the best existing translations of the Qur'an. Influenced by his travels in China, he became a collector of Chinese porcelain & art, and part of his collection was auctioned at Christies in London on 25th July 1960, as Mrs B. Ali's collection.
Professor Ahmed Ali is a Founding Father of the Pakistan Academy of Letters; he received Pakistan'sSitara-i-Imitiaz (Star of Excellence), 1980, and an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy by the University of Karachi, 1993. The Pakistan Post issued a commemorative postage stamp to honour his contributions to Pakistan and Literature, 2005; to celebrate his birth centenary an international conference: Ahmed Ali, Progressive Writers, and Bilingual Creativity, was held by the Sahitya Akademi, Lucknow University, and the Association of Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies, at the Lucknow University in 2011.
FOR THIS LOT
It was during the 1940s and 1950s that Roy reinterpreted iconic images in several of his paintings, as he believed that sacred art created the richest mythological traditions. His works were created for the community, and he turned his back on colonial culture, seeking to restore a simple goodness to art that had been lost to the elite of the colonial metropolis. In the two lots that form part of this collection, the first depicting Mary (left), Jesus (centre) and Mary Magdalene (right) and the second depicting Jesus we can see how Roy's intense concentration and ruthless ability to pair down the inessential details, leads to a remarkable modernist brevity, boldness and simplicity of expression, which was a vehicle for his deep and understated social commitment. (Partha Mitter, The Triumph of Modernism: India's artists and the avant-garde 1922-1947, 2007, pp.112-122)
The medium is oil and tempera on board and not oil on paper as stated in the catalogue. The work was gifted to Professor Ahmed Ali in 1945-46, not 1947-48 as stated in the catalogue.