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Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art / Maqbool Fida Husain (Indian, 1913-2011) Untitled (Horse)
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Private Collection of George and Norma Dove-Edwin, UK;
Purchased by the vendor's between 1966-1968 when they were stationed in India.
For a similar work sold in these rooms, see Islamic and Indian Art including Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art, London, 23rd October 2017, lot 309.
George Dove-Edwin (1928-2009) was a Nigerian Diplomat, in the country's post-independence years; Nigeria gained independence on 1st October 1960. He was well known in Britain, having served as the high commissioner in the UK from 1986-1992, the longest tenure of any Nigerian ambassador. He improved relations between the two nations whilst protecting national and African interests. Prior to his term in the UK, he was in the Nigerian foreign service, and he was posted in Washington, Egypt, India, Japan, Sweden and France. It was during his travels to these countries that he acquired art works from the local art scene, and it was in the course of his 2 year stay in India between 1966-1968 that he purchased the present lot, the Husain horse.
The horse has been one of the key elements in Husain's oeuvre since he first depicted the animal in 1951. The inspiration for his horses came from various sources, some of which include the classical and folk tradition of the Panchtantra and Jataka tales, Indian sculpture, pre-historic rock paintings, the iconic Duldul, Imam Husain's horse in the battle of Karbala and the Bankura horse of West Bengal. The horse in the present lot, clearly shows the influence of the traditional Bankura horse, with its distinctive elongated and erect neck, and raised ears. The blues deployed in the background and to create the almost translucent figure accentuates the white of the horse, drawing the viewers attention to the horse, the protagonist of the painting.
This work dates from the 60s, which was one of the most bellicose decades in the history of modern India. In several works executed in the late 1960s/early 1970s Husain's horses reflect the mood of aggression and violence felt throughout the country. The depiction of this horse is entirely in line with those other works and is infused with the same feeling of aggression and anger. The horse can also be viewed as a victim of the violence and this is evident in the present lot as the nude blue figure is piercing the horse. For works of a similar style dating from the same period, which can be found in the collections of Brian Brown, a Private Collection and the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, see K. Bikram Singh, Maqbool Fida Husain, New Delhi, 2008, pp.172-184, figures 147, 150 and 160.
"Like his bulls, spiders and lamps on women's thighs, boastful snakes and blackly passionate suns, Husain's horses are subterranean creatures. Their nature is not intellectualized; it is rendered as sensation or as abstract movement, with a capacity to stir up vague premonitions and passions, in a mixture of ritualistic fear and exultant anguish." (R. Bartholomew and S. Kapur, Husain, Harry N. Abrams, New York, 1972, p. 42)