Page last updated at 08:17 GMT, Friday, 13 June 2008 09:17 UK

Record price for Indian painting

Birth by Francis Newton Souza
Souza's Birth - the artist was 'ahead of his times'

A sale of a painting by the late Indian painter Francis Newton Souza has set a record for an Indian work of art.

Souza's 1955 work, Birth, was sold for 1,273,250 ($2,519,762) at an auction of modern South Asian art at Christie's earlier this week.

It set a new "world auction record for the artist and for any Indian modern art and contemporary work of art," according to a Christie's official.

Souza, who died in 2002, was born in Goa and lived in London and New York.

Known for his bold compositions, Souza is the only Indian artist to have a room dedicated to his works at Tate Britain.

The painting was with a private collection in the United States.


Souza was the founder of a group of influential Indian artists called the Progressive Artists Group to encourage new forms of art.

Set up in 1947 in Mumbai, the group counted such leading artists as SH Raza, MF Husain, SK Bakre, Akbar Padamsee and Tyeb Mehta.

Indian art critic Madhu Jain said Souza's work have always fetched high prices in auctions.

"He was controversial and ahead of his times. He is one of the most significant Indian artists," she said.

Christie's said in a statement that Wednesday's auction of the works of 50 of South Asia's leading modern and contemporary art fetched over 5,000,000.

It said that 12 artists' records were set in total at the auction.

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