Work by India's 'Picasso' found in Greece makes top price at Bonhams in London

Greeks asked to look out for more works by Husain

A week before the death last year of M.F. Husain, India's leading artist, a work by him sourced in Athens made £168,000 at Bonhams, the international fine art auction house in London. This made it the highest priced painting by Husain sold in London auctions during 2011.

Husain had a powerful link to Greece as he was fascinated by and painted Greek mythology, including the "three graces," all his life.

Mehreen Rizvi, Director of Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art at Bonhams says: "We know that Husain's appeal goes well beyond interest from Indian collectors, and that includes the collecting community in Greece. Our agents in Athens, Art Expertise, will be happy to offer a complimentary valuation. This would be a good time for Greeks holding paintings by Husain to have them valued as prices for work by MF Husain are doing very well at auction."

Celebrated Indian artist MF Husain, who earned both fame and wrath for his paintings, died in London last year after being unwell for over a month.

Popularly known as MF and regarded as the "Picasso of India", the artist breathed his last at the Royal Brompton Hospital at the age of 95.

On June 1st 2011 at Bonhams sale of Modern and Contemporary Middle Eastern Art and South Asian Art an untitled image of a woman and horse by Husain, painted in 1970, sold for £168,000. Prior to the sale it was estimated to sell for £70,000 to £90,000.

The picture came from a private Greek collection which acquired it from a gallery in Delhi in the early 1970s.The depiction of two of Husain's most iconic subjects, horses and women, are combined in this image to create a work laden with veiled symbols and intensity.

The horse has been one of the key elements in the artist's oeuvre throughout the last sixty years and is here portrayed with a gaping mouth and wide staring eyes. The crazed animal has been executed in light tones which help to show the intensity and power of the animal.

"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 intellectualised; 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." Richard Bartholomew and Shiv S. Kapur, Husain, New York.

The period of 1965-1975 was one of the most bellicose decades in the history of modern India. It is therefore not surprising that the conflicts in which India was involved influenced Husain during this period. 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.

By the early 1970s Husain's nudes had evolved from a formal study of the female figure to an embodiment of the emotions that woman creates in man. During this period Husain's focus is on the heat and fire created by the female form rather than on the structure of the female body. Husain once said "When I make nude paintings of women you will find that there is no nakedness in this nudity." It is later on in the 1970s that the artist focuses on the female figure as an erotic subject matter.

For more information about the valuation of paintings at Bonhams in Athens please contact Art Expertise on 30 210 3636 404 or email


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to

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