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.
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