Kishore Singh points out the striking image contained within F. N. Souza’s Mary Magdalene auctioned yesterday in Delhi by Bid & Hammer. The resemblance to a portrait of Suruchi Chand is striking as the images above show. What concerns Singh is the dates on the two paintings:
F N Souza’s Mary Magdalene that has the art fraternity chin-wagging about what many perceive to be three different paintings that, here, combine on the same canvas. This painting, dated 1956, has Christ’s crucifixion, a cityscape in the background, and a portrait in the foreground of Mary Magdalene which is an exact likeness of a much later – 1984 – painting titled Portrait of Suruchi Chand. Souza met Chand only in 1982 and drew her in the same year, but painted the likeness (as appears in this “1956” work as Mary Magdalene) in 1984. […] It is extremely difficult for even the most professional art institution to fully authenticate or track works since artists and, till recently, galleries were quite lax about the paperwork. As a result, provenance has rapidly developed into a minefield which organisations such as Saffronart have gone a long way to eliminate.
Adding to the mystery is the fact that Saffronart’s portrait sold for $46,000 and the Mary Magdalene work was estimated in the range of $200k. Though the auction was held on Tuesday, there is no public indication of whether the Magdalene work as sold.
Update: The auction house has a ferocious response to Singh. Here is just a part of it:
In this context, to address his make-believe concerns on the authenticity of the works, it would be best if he first checks that the 1984 work by Souza, put up by Saffronart, is indeed a genuine work and why and how it resembles a three-decade-old work by the same artist. How does Suruchi Chand come into the picture here? Does the 1984 work even remotely resemble Suruchi Chand? Coming to the crux of the matter, we assert that the 1956 work is an original work and any later painting resembling this work in part or full can logically have two conclusions: one, that the artist could have done a variation of the theme and two, that it is an absolute fake. Strangely, on the basis of Singh’s observations, another 1956 work by the same artist in watercolour, depicting the Crucifixion of Christ and estimated at Rs 45-60 lakh, should cast doubts on the authenticity of a similar 1961 work done in oil and claimed to have been sold by Saffronart for Rs 2.75 crore in 2005.
The Curious Case of Suruchi Chand (Business Standard)
Suruchi Chand revisited (Business Standard)