Maqbool Fida Husain (India, 1915-2011) Untitled,
Lot 28
Maqbool Fida Husain (India, 1915-2011) The Blue Lady,
Sold for £97,250 (US$ 163,459) inc. premium
Lot Details
Maqbool Fida Husain (India, 1915-2011)
The Blue Lady, oil on board, signed lower right, framed, 97.7 x 46.4cm (38 7/16 x 18 1/4in).


  • This work was executed in the late 1950s.

    Private UK Collection of Mr. John Hay; acquired in New Delhi, India from Dhoomimal Gallery in mid 1950s, thence by descent.

    "The human figure has formed the eternal theme in Husain's search for the real." (Dnyaneshwar Nadkami. Husain Riding the Lightning, Mumbai, 1996, p. 53) Beginning around 1948 the female subject matter began to dominate Husain's painting. However, the artist's chosen manner of representation contrasts with traditional depictions of the female in both the east and the west. The featured work is neither realistic nor idealistic. The deep blue colour and the strong black lines of her contour instead recall German expressionist painting of the previous decades. Husain had travelled to Europe in 1952, several years prior to the execution of this painting, and was inspired by the works of Emile Nolde and Oskar Kokoschka. The spiritual intensity and vitality of these artists' use of colour and the sculptural power of the line, seen particularly in Nolde's work, had a clear impact on Husain's aesthetic. Upon his return the artist stated: "Line is virile form with keen latent mobility, which in spite of being imperceptible in nature, is constantly striving to assert itself." (To Badrivishal Pittie, The First Indian Collector of Husain Paintings (1952-68) Replica of the First Husain Book Published,Hyderabad, 1955.)

    Pagan Girl of 1954, seen in Richard Bartholomew and Shiva S. Kapur's Husain, is a strikingly similar composition. The only feature which distinguishes the figure from the background of the same marine blue is the thick black outline of the body. The columnar quality of both subjects and the prana mudra healing gesture from the yogic tradition made by each, are repeated elements of Husain's work.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note this artwork is canvas mounted on board and that the provenance for this lot should read: Private UK Collection of John Hay; acquired in New Delhi, India from Dhoomimal Gallery in the mid 1950s, thence by descent. This work was presented to Elizabeth Partridge by her sister as a wedding present in India. Elizabeth Partridge was a foreign correspondent for The News Chronicle and also worked for The Times of India in New Delhi during a time when the country was still adjusting to its newfound independence. Partridge had studied German for a year at Oxford, but received her degree in English from the University of London. Hay tells of his mother's decision to join the South East Asia Command when Lord Louis Mountbatten entered a room filled with young Wrens and announced: "I'm going to India. Who wants to come?" Partridge and a number of other journalists were billeted at government sponsored flats in Constitution House where the government could "keep an eye on them". The painting came into the possession of the Hay family following an encounter that Ms. Partridge's sister had with the artist. She found Husain painting in the flat of P.N. Sharma, a friend who at the time resided across the hall from where she and her sister were living. Hay's aunt discovered the artist at work after coming upon the open door to Sharma's flat. Inside, kneeling on the floor and painting busily, was M. F. Husain surrounded by a number of half-finished canvases which covered every surface and hung from every wall. Hay's aunt expressed her great interest in the work and Husain, in turn, told her that he was "under contract" to produce a number of paintings for the proprietor of the Dhoomimal Art Gallery in Connaught Place. Having seen how beautiful Husain's paintings were, Hay's aunt resolved to purchase one of them as a wedding present for her much-loved sister. The gallery owner told her, with a flourish, that Husain had mentioned he called the work "The Blue Lady" and that is forever how it became known within the family.
  1. Nour Aslam
    Specialist - Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art
    101 New Bond Street
    London, W1S 1SR
    United Kingdom
    Work +44 20 7468 8382
    FaxFax: +44 20 7468 8283
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