Shaykh Zayn al Din watercolour of a stork
A watercolour from 1781 of a stork eating a snail by Shaykh Zayn al Din. It sold for £200,000 at Sotheby’s sale of Indian miniatures from the Khosrovani-Diba collection.

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The 35 lots, a mix of Mughal, Pahari and Company School paintings, raised a hammer total of £2.47m, double the pre-sale estimate.

Lot after lot left its estimate behind as bidders in the room vied with some equally determined phone bidders.

The highest-priced item was a Pahari school illustration from the Gita Govinda produced c.1820 at Kangra, a night-time scene depicting Krishna and Radha in the forest. It was finally carried away by a room bidder at £290,000.

Equally fierce competition emerged for the two well-provenanced Company School paintings made by local Delhi and Calcutta artists for British patrons in India.

A watercolour of five seated men from the Fraser Album, commissioned by Scotsman William Fraser in the second decade of the 19th century, realised £140,000.

It was knocked down the same bidder who secured the top lot.

Calcutta Watercolours

Also bringing strong interest was an impressive earlier work from 1781 of a stork eating a snail, signed by Shaykh Zayn al Din.

It came from the series of watercolours of flora and fauna commissioned in Calcutta from a known group of artists by Lady Impey. A subsequent owner was Jacqueline Kennedy.

Bidding at the auction on October 19 opened at £40,000. It was contested first by phone bidders, then, after it had more than doubled the £60,000-80,000 estimate, by two room bidders.

The hammer finally fell at £200,000 to the New York dealer Carlton Rochell, who was delighted with his purchase, telling ATG immediately after the sale that he would have been prepared to go higher still.