Signed 'Husain' (lower right)
Acquired directly from the artist
Private collection, Dubai
"He captures in their postures and lineaments their distinctive ethos and culture -- the Maharashtrian woman as distinguished from her sister in Kerala, the Rajasthani herdsmen from the Andhra peasant. Not by physiognomy or costume alone are they differentiated, but in their total bearing and presence." (E. Alkazi, M.F. Husain: The Modern Artist and Tradition, New Delhi, 1978, pg. 22)
As in this particular painting, 'Lady with a Candle', the titular lady is shown in a standing body position known as the tribhanga, a stance used in traditional Indian sculptures and classical dance forms. Characterized by the gentle "S" shape, her body oppositely curved at the waist and neck while holding the candle. The candle's glare is shown like a mosaic. Placed in her very own private sphere, Husain transformed the lady into an archetypal figure and depicted her with a featureless face making her universally relatable. The picture possessed a static poise with slow languorous deliberateness like a film still. The background possess no figuration and painted like so to depict areas of light and dark in the picture plane.
Husain has painted the female figure as an epitome of beauty and sensuality while retaining an accessible quality to it. Relentlessly paying obeisance to early Indian art, he incorporated local traditions and characteristics to his style, presentation and themes. He preserved a reticent and layered quality while also instilling an underlying admiration and understanding of the sensuality of the female form.
Like many of his seminal works, this composition captures Husain's endless exploration of his cultural roots. He returned time and again to his blended folk, tribal and mythological themes to create spirited art forms.