1956 Jamini Roy Painting

Value (2006) | $20,000 Auction$30,000 Auction

GUEST:
We got married about 50 years ago in Japan on a very, very tight budget. And we took a freighter all the way to Calcutta. And we had a friend there showing us around, and end of the tour, he took us to Jamini Roy's studio, which, you know, I didn't know anything about. And here's an old guy coming out and saying, "Hey. Poor thing! You got married so young!" I was 21 then. And... "What are you going to do in America?" I said, "I don't know." I was going to go to school, anyway. He said, "Why don't you look around and pick one painting that I really like, and I'll give it to you." And I really liked this painting. It just stands out to me. And I like the whiteness of the cow and the blueness of the Krishna. This is signed, but he said, "Oh, poor thing, you cannot read this sign." So, he put his name in English.

APPRAISER:
He signed in English on the back of the painting. Well, this is a very typical work by Jamini Roy. He studied in Calcutta, and originally he worked in a Western mode. He trained along the academic model. For a while, he worked in an impressionist manner. He was a successful portrait painter. But in the 1920s, he just changed completely. And he wanted to do work that had more to do with the country he came from and that related to India and particularly to Bengal.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
And this is why this style evolved. And it's painted in what we call either gouache or some people choose to call tempera paint,

GUEST:
Oh.

APPRAISER:
which is a water-based paint, it's very quick-drying, and it gives this very nice flat areas of color. So it's very popular with designers, as well as fine artists. He wanted to make it more simple.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
He wanted to make it more accessible to the people he knew in India. And he also wanted to create an art that... had something to do with the identity of the country. He was looking for a national kind of art, not one that was based on, say, the British models. And of course, it was during the period of the Raj that he would have been working. So do you know what the subject of this painting is?

GUEST:
I think it's Krishna-- who is a savior-- is stealing the butter from the cow.

APPRAISER:
But he painted him blue, which I understand he did a few paintings on this kind of subject.

GUEST:
He's taking all the sins of the world.

APPRAISER:
Indeed.

GUEST:
That's what he explained to me then.

APPRAISER:
So, it must have been fascinating to have met the artist.

GUEST:
Yes. But I didn't really appreciate much because I didn't know him at all. He was just an old man. He was very nice, though. But I felt so bad. I took my ten dollars, which was very, very precious then for us, and, "Would you please take this?" And he took it.

APPRAISER:
So you paid ten dollars for it?

GUEST:
Uh-huh.

APPRAISER:
And how much do you think it's worth now?

GUEST:
Maybe $1,000, I don't know. I really don't know.

APPRAISER:
So, if I told you $10,000, do you think that was pretty good?

GUEST:
No, no, no! It couldn't be that much!

APPRAISER:
Well, actually, it's not. It's $20,000 to $30,000.

GUEST:
What?

APPRAISER:
Yeah.

GUEST:
Really? Really?

APPRAISER:
Yes. The market for... this is like Russian...

GUEST:
I've got goose bumps!

APPRAISER:
It is a little bit chilly all of a sudden. The market for Russian, Chinese and Indian modern art has never been as hot as it is now.

GUEST:
Oh, my God!

APPRAISER:
Those markets, because of the economies, are very dynamic. And these countries are trying to buy back their heritages as well.

GUEST:
Oh, I see, I see.

APPRAISER:
And he was a big part of the Indian heritage of that period. And so, the prices have just gone up very dramatically over the last few years.

GUEST:
Oh, thank you so much. Oh, great.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Freeman's Auctioneers
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Appraised value (2006)
$20,000 Auction$30,000 Auction
Event
Honolulu, HI (August 26, 2006)
Period
20th Century
Form
Painting
Material
Gouache, Tempura

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