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Lot Details

Signed and dated 'Husain / 8.8.89' (upper right)

Titled in the artist's handwriting in a book cataloging the owner's collection of M.F. Husain's works.
A copy of the page illustrating the painting and title from this book accompanies the lot.

Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner
Property of an esteemed art collector

"My horses are classical because I see them as ageless and immortal. They draw chariots in the great epics, they stand proudly in the poorest stables, they are embodiments of strength like the dragon of China. I don't show their hooves because there's no need to. My eyes stops at the color, I don't have to paint the details because details are superfluous. Art is not in the painting, art is in the artist. He relives life through his painting." - M.F. Husain

M.F. Husain encountered and portrayed the equine figure throughout his artistic career; this fascination later took him to various continents and cultures. He acknowledged the influence of terracotta horses from the Qin dynasty, the hundreds of galloping horse paintings he studied during his travels to China, along with the equine sculptures of the Italian sculptor Marino Marini (1901- 1980) in his works, among others. Yet he considers the tazias (effigies) of Imam Husayn's faithful horse during Muharram processions of his boyhood as the core inspiration in his quest to represent the form.

The muscular bodies of the horses are carefully interwoven in this composition, galloping and rampant beside one another, portraying energy and dynamism. Their necks are elegantly arched, their strong heads held high as if caught while braying. Their mouths, as seen here, resemble that of a dragon's - masculine and feral - while their hinds are distinctly feminine, making them a perfect combination of strength and grace. Husain paid particular attention to the palette using blocks of vivid and sharp colors, reminiscent of the Basholi period and one of his favorite artistic devices, to accentuate movement in the picture and lend the entire composition depth and lyricism. Titled 'Perhaps these three horses are like three cheers for my Knighthood' and dated 1989, the current lot refers to the conferment of Husain's third civilian honor from the Government of India - the Padma Vibhushan Award on the same year and which he referred to as his knighthood. He previously received the Padma Shri and the Padma Bhushan in 1955 and 1973, respectively.

Making use of a wide range of cultural inspiration as wells as personal experiences, Husain bestowed his horses with a potent and evocative presence, representing his captivation and fascination with the equine figure throughout different stages of his career.

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.