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Item Description:


Oil on canvas

c. 1950s

39 1/8 x 12 in. (99.3 x 30.5 cm.)

Signed and inscribed 'PROFILE/ Husain' on reverse


Indische Kunst der Gegenwart, Museum Folkwang Essen, Germany, 15th May - 16 July, 1959.

Indische Kunst der Gegenwart, Stadtischen Kunsthalle, Recklinghausen, 18 July - 9 August, 1959.

'Husain paints women because these are not heroic times and, tenderly joyous or suffering, women remain vital.' (Shiv S. Kapur, Husain, Lalit Kala Contemporary Series, New Delhi, 1961, p. vii)

Since the 1950s, women have been one of the 'prime symbols' of the artist's work. It was perhaps the loss of his mother at an early age that led to his intrinsic fascination with the feminine form as one of his primary subjects.

In 1956, M.F. Husain produced a famous portrait of Indrani Rahman, the legendary Indian dancer who won the first Miss India pageant in 1952. Her family were great friends of Charles Fabri, the Hungarian scholar and art critic who wrote for The Statesman in Delhi as well as British art and dance journals.

Despite his friendship with the family and Husain, Charles Fabri criticised the portrait, which hurt Husain as he respected Fabri's opinion. Taking this as a personal artistic challenge, Husain began painting portraits at every opportunity. Roughly a year after the comment, Husain held another exhibition consisting entirely of portraits where Fabri was forced to change his opinion, and instead wrote a glowing review of the exhibition.

As seen in the current work, his rendition of women around this time takes root from a portrait style, as compared to the more abstract and sensuous female figures that would follow in the decades ahead. The appearance, here, of distinct facial features, along with the prominent bindi on her forehead, indicates that, she too, may have belonged to his group of muses that he enjoyed re-creating on canvas. However, compared to some of the more formal settings of other works from this period (see Portrait of Two Sisters (1958), Pundole's, Paintings from the Collection of the National Centre for the Performing Arts, April 2011, lot 15), the figure here is a precursor of what would come shortly after. The importance of colour and method of application in relation to the overall composition is already apparent in his choice of bright yellows and greens for the figure, juxtaposed against the dark but subtly shaded background in rich tones of blue inching their way to black.

Jaya Appasamy explains (after seeing a retrospective exhibition in the late 1960s) that in the 1950s '... Husain had begun to free his art from subject matter and his colour from being restricted or confined within forms. The enclosing lines also became increasingly unnecessary as new lines or edges were obtained by the juxtaposition of one colour with another. These were innovations which helped to liberate his own expression, at the same time they advanced new aims.' (Jaya Appasamy, 'Three Retrospective Exhibitions, Husain', Lalit Kala Contemporary 10, New Delhi, September 1969, pp. 29-30)

Both exhibition catalogues from the 1959 shows in Germany will be included in the lot.

# Import duty at 11% will be charged on the hammer price and GST will be applicable on the total amount of the hammer price plus the import duty.


The colours of the original are similar with greater tonal varieties, than the catalogue illustration. The areas of gloss appear to be because of the artist's use of Chinese lacquer paint. Very fine craquelure visible in the blue area in the lower half. Overall good condition.

About The Artist:


₹ 4,000,000.00 ( Low est. )
Lot 35# in The Fine Art Sale including Classical Paintings (M0029)
AUCTION DATE: Jan 21, 2021 at 6:30pm IST



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