Sign In

Lot Details

Signed and dated 'Husain 2005' (lower right)

Acquired directly from the artist

’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

Maqbool Fida Husain was born in Pandharpur, Maharashtra, on September 17, 1915. He moved to Madhya Pradesh and spent much of his growing years in the city of Indore. Husain lived to be one of the most admired painters in the history of contemporary India – also, one of the most controversial – and earned enormous international fame for his works.

Francis Newton Souza, in 1947, had invited Husain to join the Progressive Artists’ Group. The organisation that celebrated modernism and encouraged a deviation from traditional styles of painting. This invitation was a recognition of Husain's personal idiom, his appreciation of contemporary art and eagerness to not be situated in traditional moulds, however old and pervasive they may be. In subsequent years, Husain’s professional life accompanied crucial events that were unfolding across the world. The stark deterioration of human values he witnessed in this period stirred and saddened him and he expressed these sentiments in the famous 21-part series of paintings, called 'The Lost Continent'.

'The Last Supper' is the pivotal feature of The Lost Continent series. Painted in July 2005 in London, the series offers a peak into Husain’s sense of humanity and moral values. It sold for $2 million in 2005 and, at the time, bore the record of the highest sum ever paid for a work of modern art from India.

Christ sits by a table, haloed, with a book open before him. His torso is shaped in the form of a dove. The table, roughly cut is lifted at one end by the devil and by an angel at the other. A woman, garbed in robes and wearing a head gear, cups a candle in her palms. She is seen standing by Christ, on his left-hand side; on his right is an elderly bearded man and an imposing frame of an African lady. The fulcrum of this entire scene is an empty bowl at the centre of the table. The bowl signifies famine and the arresting presence of Africa, a region languishing in hunger and starvation, and serves as the artist’s statement on the global politics surrounding food. Husain had also commented at one point that “the empty bowl signifies betrayal”.

Through a career that spanned decades, Husain has become a name that is both celebrated and authoritative in Indian art. He was a witness to a tumultuous period in human history where human values were in rapid deterioration across the world. His art mirrored his sense of the times and the loss he felt spilt out into The Lost Continent series. A colourful yet profound expression of an iconic Biblical scene, The Last Supper is one of the most unique offerings in the series. It was conceived after several years of search and dedication towards a telling idea: “the agony of a performer and the pain of the spectator”. The painting premiered in the Gamble Room of The Victoria and Albert Museum in London and exhibited in other august venues, serves as a statement of Husain’s aesthetic regarding loss and the human condition.

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.