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But with works by these artists now selling for high five and six-figure US dollar sums, Indian and non-resident Indian (NRI) collectors are broadening their remit to include more financially accessible works that offer greater investment potential.

"Modern Indian painting is a rising market. Some buyers are getting to be quite butch and aggressive in bidding…There was a significant increase in prices for younger artists," said Sotheby's Indian and Southeast Asian specialist Anu Ghosh-Mazumdar.

Illustrating this phenomenon at Sotheby's Indian and Southeast Asian sale on April 1 was the $22,500 (£12,500) tendered by an Indian private buyer for Jogen Chowdhury's (b.1939) untitled ink on pastel. Also of note was Chittrovanu Mazumdar's (b.1956) signed abstract acrylic on canvas knocked down to a NRI at $25,000 (£13,890). Both paintings were pitched at $6000-8000.

However, Sotheby's most expensive painting was the signed 3ft 10in x 5ft 8in (1.17 x 1.73m) acrylic on canvas by Maqbool Husain entitled Shatranj Ki Khiladi (pictured right) that fetched $120,000 (£66,665).

Similarly, works by established artists proved the most coveted paintings in Christie's Indian and Southeast Asian outing the previous day on March 31 - Akbar Padamsee's (b.1928) oil Mirror Image topped expectations at $155,000 (£86,110) and Husain's Nude was one of three works by the master to make the top ten selling to an American collector at $130,000 (£72,220).

There was a similar price hike for works by younger artists. A signed and dated oil on canvas entitled Merry Go Round (pictured below right), measuring 7ft 1in x 5ft 2in (2.16 x 1.56m), painted by Chittrovanu Mazumdar (b.1956) in 1991 quadrupled pre-sale hopes at $45,000 (£25,000) while Atul Dodiya's (b.1959) Lullaby painted in 2000 closed the sale at $42,000 (£23,335).

"Around 70-80 per cent of our modern paintings sold to NRI's and Indian collectors. Husain is the grand old figure of modern Indian art… but the number of artists moving into the mainstream collecting is expanding," said Christie's Indian and Southeast Asian specialist Hugo Weihe.
Sotheby's sold 95 per cent of their 59-lot painting section and Christie's found buyers for 95 per cent of their larger 94-lot offering.