Artwork by Sayed Haider Raza,  Temple Protestant

Sayed Haider Raza
Temple Protestant

oil on canvas
signed and dated 1957 upper right; titled “Temple protestant” on the stretcher; inscribed RAZA "Temple Protestant / P185 - 58 / 25F” on a label on the stretcher; further titled “Protestant Church” on a gallery label on the frame on the reverse
25.5 x 31.75 in ( 64.8 x 80.6 cm )

Auction Estimate: $300,000.00$250,000.00 - $300,000.00

Price Realized $960,000.00
Sale date: May 30th 2024

Galerie Lara Vincy, Paris (inventory no. P185)
Galerie Dresdnere, Montreal (inventory no. 331, acquired 18 November 1958)
Private Collection, Montreal (acquired May 1959)
Private Collection, Toronto
Private Collection, Toronto
Ashok Vajpeyi and Sayed Haider Raza, "Passion: Life and Art of Raza, Rajkamal", New Delhi, 2005, page 57
In 1950, Raza moved to Paris from his homeland of India having obtained a bursary from the French Government to study at the École Nationale des Beaux-Arts. His initial years in the city were difficult as he lacked acquaintances and struggled for money. However, after several years his fortunes began to change. In 1955 he signed a contract with Galerie Lara Vincy to exhibit with them exclusively until 1971 and the following year he was awarded the prestigious Prix de La Critique, the first foreign artist to do so. By 1957, the year "Temple Protestant" was painted, Raza was able to live off his art alone and move into a loft space in the Latin Quarter of Paris, as he said “a new life started for me”. As Raza’s finances improved, he was able to move from gouache in tempera, to the more expensive medium of impasto in oil. He also began to travel more extensively through France and it was the villages and landscapes of his new country that became the main subjects of his paintings. As Raza explains:

“The French landscape became a dominant theme of my work from 1954 to ’65. I went to Brittany where I painted French churches and villages. I went to the central part of France. I went right up to Carcassone and to the southern part called Provence; in the villages dating back to the middle ages the houses were beautiful.”

In combination with these changes, Raza’s works from the mid- to late-1950s also demonstrate a new shift in style and vision, particularly brought about by his exposure to the work of the Post-Impressionists and artists like Cézanne, whose paintings he saw in the museums and galleries of Paris. However, where Raza begins exploration into a new direction in his art, he does not abandon his previous style immediately. In the current work we still see traces of the clarity and order of his ‘classic’ period some years previously. The composition is carefully balanced, with the village and its imposing spired church set against a pale blue sky, each building encased with a bold black line. However, the elements of the painting are now no longer painted in flat delicate tempera and strung along the horizon but densely packed together and rendered in thick rugged brushstrokes. Over the coming years, as Raza further explored the possibilities of his new medium and as his artistic sensibility matured, his paintings would become looser, more textured and more expressionistic. "Temple Protestant" stands at a point where to use Rudolf von Leyden’s words, “subject” is becoming increasingly more irrelevant, but “image” persists.

We extend our thanks to Anne Macklin from The Raza Foundation in New Delhi for her assistance in researching this artwork and contributing the preceding essay.

This work will be included in "S.H. Raza, Catalogue Raisonné, Early Works (1940-1957)" by Anne Macklin on behalf of The Raza Foundation, New Delhi (SR2712).

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Sayed Haider Raza
(1922 - 2016)