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Lot Details

Signed and dated 'Husain 005' (lower right)

Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner

’The Lost Continent’, The Arts House, Old Parliament Building, Singapore, October 2005
‘The Lost Continent’, The Gamble Room, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, July 2005

M.F. Husain: The Lost Continent, Exhibition Catalogue, UBS and Galerie 88, 2005 (illustrated)
K. Bikram Singh, Maqbool Fida Husain, Rahul & Art, New Delhi, 2008, pg. 374 (illustrated)

India has had a long-standing tradition of reverence for motherly figures, and the concept of the mythological mother and child has remained a constant source of fascination throughout the centuries. 'Yashoda and Lord Krishna' or 'Mother Mary with Jesus' as ideals of motherhood has been an enduring theme in art, both in India and abroad.1 For M.F. Husain who had lost his mother from an early age, the theme was a compulsion. He revisited it through the years and sought this image in every feminine form, as seen here.

Aptly titled 'A New Born Child Held Gently By a Fallen Leaf,' the current lot features an image of baby Krishna atop a golden leaf, separated from the featureless face of a mother, seen in the background. He forgoes depiction of any features of her face, concentrating instead on a blue bindu on her forehead, signifying his lifelong search for a maternal figure. Husain explained, "As I do not recall my mother's visage, most of my female figures have no face details."

In Husain's female form, there seems to be an invisible veil between the viewer and her presence so that the simplicity of the figure is countered by the inaccessibility. This propensity can be attributed to his childhood in a Muslim household, where the feminine presence alternates between the secretive and the visible, or to his suppressed yearning for a motherly figure that left him permanently bereft. Consequently, he depicted his women vaguely, like apparitions that refuse to disappear or fully appear in his canvases.2

As is typical of Husain's works, colors were used emotively amid strong outlines and sharp angular lines, casting into motion his pictorial spaces. The brilliant colors with its symbolic and expressive values combined with his distinct human forms transform the narrative on the painting surface into an intimate experience of poetry.

Text Reference:
1 Aishwarya Kirit, The 'Mother and Child' in Modern Indian Art,, July 27, 2019
2 Yashodhara Dalmia, M.F. Husain: A Tribute, Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi, 2012, pg. 15

Maqbool Fida Husain

(1915 - 2011)
Born in Pandharpur, Maharashtra, in 1915, Husain moved to Mumbai in 1937 where he sustained himself by painting cinema hoardings and designing furniture and toys. A self-taught artist, Husain was invited to join the Progressive Artists Group in 1947 by F.N. Souza after his first public exhibition of paintings. Most recently, his work has been featured in solo shows including ‘M.F. Husain: Early Masterpieces 1950s-1970s at the David Winton Bell Gallery, Providence in 2010; ‘Epic India’ at the peabody Essex Museum, Salem, in 2006-07; and ‘Early Masterpieces 1950-70s, at Asia House Gallery, London, in 2006. Husain was nominated to the Rajya Sabha, India’s Upper House of Parliament in 1986-92, during which he pictorially recorded its events, which were then published in 1994. The Government of India awarded him with a Padma Shri in 1966, a Padma Bhushan in 1973 and Padma Vibhushan in 1991, all high civilian honours. In 1971, Husain was invited to exhibit as a special invitee with Pablo Picasso at the Sao Paulo Biennale, Brazil. In 2004, he was awarded the Lalit Kala Ratna by the Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi. Husian passed away in London in 2011.