Lot 210
  • 210

Maqbool Fida Husain (1913 - 2011)

100,000 - 150,000 USD
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  • Maqbool Fida Husain
  • Untitled (Three Horses)
  • Signed in Devanagari and Urdu upper left
  • Oil on canvas
  • 49 1/4 by 20 in. (125 by 51 cm.)
  • Painted circa 1965-70


Acquired in 1975 at the Oberoi Hotel

Catalogue Note

In classical Indian mythology, seven horses draw the chariot of the sun God Surya; they are symbols of the sun itself, of time and of knowledge. In certain Puranic myths, horses are said to have emerged from the sea and during the early Vedic period, the sacrifice of horses was widely prevalent. For Husain, they are symbols of life sustaining forces. Riderless, his horses look out across timeless landscapes or back towards an unseen audience.  The images are metaphorical and at times powerfully erotic.

Untitled (Three Horses) is a dynamic work by India’s most popular artist, Maqbool Fida Husain. As a young boy he was impressed by their power and grace, choosing to revisit this subject throughout his career. What sets these paintings apart from other renditions of horses are his energetic lines and masterful brushstrokes. Much like the Futurists, one can almost sense the movement of these animals within the canvas, a far cry from the static nature of Cubism. Brilliantly rendered in the artist’s immediately recognizable calligraphic style, this painting is an exemplary work within Husain’s corpus.

‘The rebuilding of forms is done with a full awareness of the value of line and colour. The lines race, jab, or are muted. There is an unfailing energy about them. Where the lines are finally made, the colours run into each other in subtle tones, and the whole appears as a distillation of thought and feeling. Bright colours are caught and gaily streamered by variable lines. Contrasting masses of flat colours are used in place of chiaroscuro to create monumentality or a sense of petrifaction and timelessness. Against a strongly racing line, as in the paintings with horses, flat interrupted surfaces of colour are used to arrest movement, place power on a leash as it were, thereby atonce controlling and accentuating it. Colour itself is usually applied in a mixture of brush and knife, in swift sure strokes. The result of all this is a rich and vital art, an abstraction of power, movement and feeling in rare balance.’ (S. Kapur, Husain, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi, 1961, p. viii)