A rare 1931 pencil portrait of Mahatma Gandhi by artist John Henry Amshewitz, will go under the hammer at the Sotheby’s auction here on July 11. The sketch that features Gandhi writing something intensely whilst seated on the floor, is inscribed by him with the words “Truth is God / MK Gandhi / 4.12.’31.” Estimated at a price between Rs 6.72 lakhs – Rs 10.09 lakhs (approx.), the portrait was made on one of Gandhi’s visits to London for the Round Table Conference in 1931. “Gandhi usually refused to sit for formal photographs, let alone a portraits, making this an extremely rare portrayal of the political leader at work,” the auction house said in statement. After Gandhi’s return from London, the art work was given to a local resident who was closely associated with the Kingsley Hall, where the political leader was staying. It had remained in her family ever since.
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The sale will also include a collection of handwritten letters by Gandhi addressed to Sarat Chandra Bose and his family, a prominent Indian political dynasty at the time. The most important of the letters are obviously addressed to Sarat Chandra himself, and include key comments on the pivotal partition of Bengal in the months before his assassination, providing a vivid impression of the intense political pressures that Gandhi faced in his final months. “Gandhi was initially supportive of Bose’s efforts, but shifted his position. He had little sympathy for Bose’s vision of a socialist Bengal and, coming to see that the political forces in favour of Partition were irresistible, turned instead to trying to mitigate its effects,” Sotheby’s said.
In one letter Gandhi writes, “you should give up the struggle for unity of Bengal and cease to disturb the atmosphere that has been created for partition of Bengal.” Gandhi’s letter to Sarat Chandra Bose is estimated at Rs Rs 10.09 lakhs – Rs 15. 14 lakhs (approx.). Dating from the mid-1940s, the other letters in the collection affirm Gandhi’s continued love of the Bose family, recall visits to their home in Calcutta and discuss the future development of India with Amiya Nath Bose, Sarat Chandra’s son. Together, these letters have a combined estimate of Rs 19.37 lakk to 27. 79 lakhs (approx.).