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Lot Details

Signed 'Husain' (on the reverse)
Bearing Christie's label and tag (on the back of the frame)

Christie's / Live Auction 1115 / Lot 288 / Indian and Southeast Asian Art including 20th Century Indian / New York / 19 September 2002
Christie's / Live Auction 20585 / Lot 614 / South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art Including Works from the Collection of Mahinder and Sharad Tak / New York / 23 March 2022
Private collection, Dubai

As an Indian icon, Mother Teresa appealed to Husain's sensibilities as an artist, not only for her work with the poor but also for what the religious figure signifies, a notion of a mother. The artist, whose mother passed away during his childhood, associated the saint as a living personification of his own mother and the very idea of motherhood in general.

Seen here as a faceless entity, Husain completely removed any facial features from the portrait and instead depicted the icon in outline, almost imperceptible if not for the robes she donned, a white sari with a broad blue border, accentuating the abstract figure and implying a sense of corporeality in an otherwise abstracted figuration. Although the inside of the robes that hold her presence is shown hollow, she is depicted purportedly ready to reach out to help the destitute into her folds. Wittingly, the garb which Husain highlighted in his interpretations of the subject serves as an apt, albeit abstract metaphor that effectively evokes both the person and the symbolism that she inspires.

The artist states “I have tried to capture in my paintings what her presence meant to the destitute and the dying, the light and hope she brought by mere inquiry, by putting her hand over a child abandoned in the street. I did not cry at this encounter. I returned with so much strength and sadness that it continues to ferment within." (Artist statement, Y. Dalmia, The Making of Modern Indian Art: The Progressives, New York, 2001, p. 116)

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.