International auction house Sotheby’s upcoming auction on March 16 is an interesting one. The lot has three works from the collection of renowned American physicist Robert Marshak and his wife Ruth, which includes V.S. Gaitonde’s Untitled (1962) and two Adi M. Davierwalla sculptures dated 1947 and 1948. These beautiful art pieces were all but forgotten until they were recently rediscovered by the family.
Marshak was one of the foremost American scientists of his time who was part of the Manhattan Project (A research and development undertaking during World War II that produced the first nuclear weapons. It was led by the United States with the support of the United Kingdom). Mashak visited India in the 1960s as part of his mission to spread peace, which is when Dr Homi Bhabha (father of the Indian nuclear programme) introduced Marshak and his wife to the modern art scene in India.
The couple collected pieces by the same artists that Bhabha supported, namely V.S. Gaitonde and Adi Davierwalla. Gaitonde’s Untitled (1962), which is estimated between $8,00,000 to 10,00,000 hung in the Marshak family drawing room for half a century.
Although Robert and Ruth’s family was aware they owned two sculptures by Adi Davierwalla, they were unaware of their importance. After a conversation with a Sotheby’s specialist, it was confirmed that the sculpture dated 1947 was a rare Davierwalla work that their parents had collected during their trip to India in the 1960s. It is estimated to fetch $15,000 to $20,000 at the auction.
This prompted the family to search Davierwalla’s second sculpture Untitled (1948) in their family home. Upon searching, the family discovered the sculpture in the home, which likely has not been seen in almost three decades. This exquisite piece may fetch $10,000 to $15,000.
“The works that the Marshaks took home with them to the US, following their trip were by artists who were relatively unknown at the time, but are now remerging on the market almost 60 years later as among the leading figures of their generation,” says Manjari Sihare Sutin, Sotheby’s Specialist in Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art.
The three works will be offered in Sotheby’s New York sale of Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art on March 16.