First numismatic auction house foray into Indian art

In 1989, the Todywalla family held a numismatic auction at a conference in Nagpur, which marked the start of their pioneering work in this category. More than three decades later, Todywalla Auctions is making its debut in the Indian art category, with a live auction scheduled for February 25.

The Classic Indian Art sale comprises 111 lots, including paintings (often referred to as “miniatures”), sculptures and decorative objects. The auction house’s Malcolm Todywalla said they hoped to cater to people with an interest in Indian art who are looking for “authentic, well-curated and well-researched” pieces.

Todywalla Auctions is renowned among numismatists and philatelists for its work on coins, banknotes and stamps. It was founded by Farokh S Todywalla, also the president of the Mumbai Coin Society, which organizes an annual coin and banknote fair in the city.

Todywalla Auctions has previously sold the ruler of Mysore Kingdom, Tipu Sultan’s double silver rupee and a gold mohur minted during the reign of Mughal Emperor Jahangir. In 2020, a gold Gupta dinar went under the hammer at a Todywalla auction for Rs 9 lakh.

In the upcoming art auction, the star lot is a folio from Varanasi, made in 1808. It depicts Mother Earth in the form of a cow in the court of God Brahma, imploring divine assistance to end to the reign of the demon-king Ravana. Deliverance appears in the form of God Vishnu flying in his divine chariot. This lot is estimated between Rs 12 lakh and Rs 15 lakh, the highest range of this auction.

“The idea is to make art affordable. It’s not just for the rich and famous,” Todywalla said. Several lots are estimated to cost less than one lakh, which could attract young collectors.

Malcolm said the auction was organized with their network of Indian painting and sculpture experts. On February 10, renowned art historian Alka Pande will talk about the Hindu triad iconography of Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh as part of the auction. S Murugan, another Bengaluru Police Chief Executive and collector, will speak about Mysuru art on February 16.

Since the start of the pandemic, many doubts have been expressed as to the good performance of the art market. However, the Indian art market has seen several records, particularly for modern and contemporary art, in recent months.

Viewings for the Todywalla auction are currently underway in Mumbai and will also take place in New Delhi and Bangalore. Other lots in the auction include a painting of a boar hunt from the early 1800s, a brass “lingam cover” from Karnataka and an 18th-century polychrome figure of the Madonna and Child.