The sage observer of the Indian art market, Kishore Singh, points to a new sale of 232 books and prints as a turning point in the Indian art market and the country’s evolution away from its colonial past and toward international self-confidence:
In most collecting societies, antiquarian books and prints are either the starting point or useful in filling gaps — in this case in the way the “Empire” was positioned back home with an eye to showing off its flora, fauna, landscapes, architecture and, unsurprisingly, its rajas and merchants, traders and nautch girls. If these books and views and prints were in high demand in Britain before India’s independence, waning interest there has hardly kept up with antiquarian interest in India. It is only now, that Indians, confident about their nationhood and selves, are ready to bid for a past when India was Hindostan, and we are able to look back with amusement, rather than anger, at places that were called (or at any rate spelled) Nepaul and Birmah, the Sinde and Boorhanpore.
This, then, is an auction for the bounty hunter, for those with not just collecting interest in printed art, but in topics and subjects ranging from India and its Native Princes (published 1878; Rs 75,000-90,000) to The Countries of the World (4 vols; Rs 72,000-90,000), from George Atkinson’s 1911 Curry & Rice (On Forty Plates) for Rs 45,000-65,000 to the 1813 Oriental Memoirs in four volumes with “29 hand coloured plates and 79 steel engravings” estimated at a pricier Rs 6.5-8 lakh. Droll, therefore, to notice the pencilled price on the title page on one of the volumes: “Rs 35/-”.
In an Antiquarian World (Business Standard)