Gift of the artist to Dr. Lubor Hajek (1921 - 2000) who was a pre-eminent art historian and his wife.
Thence by descent.
In 1951, Dr. Hajek was put in charge of establishing a new collection of Asian Art, and he founded the Oriental Art collection at The National Gallery in Prague. He acquired 12,000 pieces and wrote numerous essays on these works. He invited and hosted Husain's subsequent visit to Prague in 1956.
The figures depicted in this early work from 1955 also appear in a canvas Husain exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1956 (Sotheby's New York, 24 March 2010, lot 145). Both paintings reference Husain's past as a toy designer. In 1943, following the birth of his first son, Shafaat, Husain quit his job painting cinema hoardings and started work at the Fantasy Furniture shop as a furniture and toy designer. In 1947, he ceased work at the shop but carried on creating toys for the amusement of himself and his children. The flat planes of colour and the stiff postured two-dimensional figures allude to the wooden toys that Husain would have designed and crafted such as lot 9. The horse in Lady on a Chariot
displays strong parallels with the
design of his wooden Tonga
toy, that he produced in the same period (Sotheby's New York, 10 September, 2012, lot 3). At the time these works were painted Husain spoke of the enduring magic of his toys and the influence they had on his paintings. "My paintings, drawings and the recent paper work has been directly influenced by my experience of traditional Indian dolls, paper toys- shapes galore. The experience of being with them and the inspiration to create them are inseparable. A painter is a child in his purity of feeling - for only then he creates with authenticity of being" (A.S. Peerbhoy, Paintings of Husain
, Bombay, 1955, introductory essay).
Lady on a Chariot demonstrates not only Husain’s fascination with toys but with his interest in the depiction of the rural idyll. In this painting the figures are set against a background that closely relates to that seen in Yatra, also painted in 1955 (illustrated in T. B. Keehn Family, India Ink: Letters from India 1953-61 by Martha McKee Keehn and The Keehn Collection of Modern Indian Art, New Delhi, 2000, p. 96) and currently on view at the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art. Both paintings are strikingly similar in composition and depict rural settlements scattered across the desert landcape of Rajasthan.