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Lot Details

Signed, dated and inscribed 'Husain / Peking / Oct 1952' (lower right)

Cannes Encheres / Lot 525 / Modern and Contemporary Art / Cannes, France / October 2018
Private collection, Singapore

Before his painting journey led him to be the most famous master of Modern Indian Art, Maqbool Fida Husain (1915 - 2011) started his career generally autodidactic. He portrayed subjects and themes available to him at the time and developed a visual language uniquely his own. His fascination with horses started at a young age, as he used to observe his grandfather and family friends work with horses and listen to many different legends about them. It will be a familiar theme in his repertoire and one he repeated throughout his prolific career.

Husain travelled extensively in the 1950s, starting with his first travel overseas to China. Titled The Two Chinese, the current lot reflects this trip on October 1952 to Peking as a member of the Communist Delegation at the World Peace Congress. Significantly, it is also one of the first Husain works that veered off his thematic vocabulary. During this time, Chinese philosophies and painting techniques greatly inspired him, influencing his style and altering his portrayal of the equine forms subsequently.

Indeed, his visit to China solidified the majestic horse he has become most known for galloping, rearing, and tossing its hind legs and manes. Horses represent his spirit and are one of his signature motifs. With each stroke and painted gesture, his energy can be felt, from life to canvas and then to print.

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.