Untitled (Horses)

Untitled (Horses)
signed 'Husain' (lower center); further inscribed and dated 'M. F. Husain 1959 25-D. BADAR BAG, BALARAM ST. BOMBAY - 7' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
40 1/8 x 24 1/8 in. (101.9 x 61.3 cm.)
Painted in 1959
The present owner's family travelled all over India in the early 1960s while on a Fullbright Scholarship. They acquired this painting in Bombay during this stay
Thence by descent



"...the earliest icon that he had a part in creating was the apocalyptic horse of the tazias. He was to remain loyal to that icon; it never strayed far from his imagination in his subsequent paintings." (Richard Bartholomew and Shiv S. Kapur, Husain, Harry N. Abrams, New York, 1972, p. 32)

Husain's horses are nearly always rampant or galloping, and their strong heads, delicate feet and dilated nostrils are expressed in blocks of colour propelled by strokes of the brush or sweeps of the palette knife. Through the uninhibited use of impasto and his choice of earthy tones in this work, Husain conveys the sense of raw unimpeded power of a herd of wild and untamed horses. According to E. Alkazi, horses are usually recognized as symbols of the sun and knowledge. They are associated with life giving and sustaining forces. Husain's horses have become "a vehicle for multiple utterances - aggression, power and protection." (R. Shahani, Let History Cut Across Me Without Me, New Delhi, 1993, p. 8)

In 1959, Husain lived in Badr Bagh at Grant Road in Bombay. In Upper Crust, the Indian lifestyle magazine, Husain recalls, "I was a struggling painter before marriage, doing posters for Hindi films and living in Bard Bagh... I used to earn six annas a day out of which I spent five paise on a meal at this Husaini Dhabha on Foras Street where Delhi Darbar is now... Then one day the dhabawala asked me to paint a portrait of his mother who used to sit at the counter. She had never had a picture taken and was getting on in old age. I remembered my own mother had passed away without leaving behind a photographic memory. So I painted the dhabawala's mother. And in payment, he gave me free meals at the dhaba for a month!"