17
17

PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED EAST COAST COLLECTION

Maqbool Fida Husain
HE AND SHE
Estimate
120,000180,000
LOT SOLD. 187,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT
17

PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED EAST COAST COLLECTION

Maqbool Fida Husain
HE AND SHE
Estimate
120,000180,000
LOT SOLD. 187,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art

|
New York

Maqbool Fida Husain
1913 - 2011
HE AND SHE
Signed and dated in Devanagari lower right. Further signed, titled, dated and inscribed '"He and she" / Husain / 1961 / T. 40' on reverse
Oil on canvas
35 x 35 in. (88.9 x 88.9 cm.)
Painted in 1961
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Collection of Badrivishal Pitti, Hyderabad
Chester and Davida Herwitz Collection 
Sotheby's New York, Contemporary Indian Paintings from the Chester and Davida Herwitz Collection, 5 December 2000, lot 79 

Literature

R. Bartholomew, and S. Kapur, Husain, Harry N. Abrams Inc. Publishers, New York, 1971, illustration pl. 88
B. Singh, Maqbool Fida Husain, Rahul & Art, New Delhi, 2008, illustration p. 105

Catalogue Note

Maqbool Fida Husain was a master at revolutionizing the Indian art aesthetic and the years between 1956 to 1961 were a period of great success which resulted in extensive travel and international exhibitions. In 1959, he received the International Biennale award in Tokyo. His paintings during this time reflected what he learned and saw on his travels to the east. The muted colors and bronze undertones in the paintings from this time indicate that he had been inspired by Japanase screen painting. Although limited in palette, these works contained a multitude of themes, including animals, bathers, lovers, dancers, musicians and nudes. The current lot, titled He and She on the reverse is from 1961 and depicts two nude figures painted perpendicular to each other. There is no hint of eroticism or ecstasy here. ‘The figures, though softly fleshed, are straight and rigid, and the colors are muted. […] The brown vertical of the woman’s standing figure is cut in the middle by the dark horizontal of the man lying behind her, to create an effect of destructive stability. A wispy sun looks out of a white and empty sky upon a scene of utter desolation that, in its associative emotion, calls to mind Kandinsky’s remark, “In my mind, the collapse of the atom was the collapse of the whole world.”’ (R. Bartholomew, and S. Kapur, Husain, Harry N. Abrams Inc. Publishers, New York, 1971, p. 43) John Berger said, ‘All great nudes imply a way of living; they are invitations to a particular philosophic view’ (ibid. p. 42). These depictions of nudes were often seen as aloof, solitary figures, more abstract and metaphysical rather than emotional.

Not only does this painting originate from one of Maqbool Fida Husain's finest periods of artistic production, it also has an eminent ownership history and provenance. It is published in the seminal book Husain, by Richard Bartholomew and Shiv S. Kapur with the title Lovers in Japan. The book notes that at the time of publication, the painting was in the collection of Badrivishal Pitti. The Pitti family were one of the most established and well-known figures in Hyderabad as they worked for the Nizam (monarch) and were involved in the running of the princely state. Even though Badrivishal Pitti was a businessman, he was involved in arts, music and cultural affairs from a young age. In 1949, he created a prestigious Hindi literary magazine – Kalpana, for which Husain went on to design several covers. It was in 1952 that Pitti and Husain were first introduced to each other, at one of Husain’s exhibitions in Bombay. Pitti ended up purchasing the entire show, providing the funds for Husain’s first trip abroad. Thus began a friendship of many decades, where Pitti supported and encouraged Husain’s success and in the process, acquired a sizable collection of his paintings, drawings and letters. This work then became a part of the collection of another notable couple – Chester and Davida Herwitz.  

Chester Herwitz was a designer and manufacturer of handbags from Massachusetts who first went to India in 1961 and then continued to visit the country almost yearly. He would sometimes remain there for months with his wife, Davida. Together, they started to collect art locally and went on to become one of the biggest patrons of Indian contemporary art. “In India, I saw contemporary art of incredible seriousness, pushing forward in a very dramatic and powerful way, where artists had a very close connection to their visual memory.” (S. Long, Sotheby’s New York, Contemporary Indian Paintings, The Chester and Davida Herwitz Charitable Trust, 1995, unpaginated) The Herwitzes were responsible for bringing international attention to Indian contemporary art. Their collection of more than 3,000 paintings and drawings has been exhibited globally in world-class institutions and sold with Sotheby’s in 1995, 1996 and 2000. Initially, they were particularly drawn to the work of Maqbool Fida Husain, with whom they formed a lifelong friendship and amassed a sizable collection of his works.

Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art

|
New York