MF Husain paintings highlight Christie’s sale of South Asian modern + contemporary art

Christie’s announce the Fall sale of South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art, taking place on September 13. The sale will present a magnificent array of works from the 20th and 21st centuries, featuring works by renowned modernists including Syed Haider Raza, Francis Newton Souza and Tyeb Mehta. Also featured in the sale are several works by the late Maqbool Fida Husain, who passed away in June 2011. As a tribute to the master, Christie’s has secured a selection of extremely important masterpieces, including works from the Keehn Family Collection.

Maqbool Fida Husain (1915-2011), Sprinkling Horses, oil on canvas, 43 1/4 x 92 ½ in. (109.9 x 235 cm.). Estimate on Request. Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2011.

Christie’s presents property from the Keehn Family Collection, a true gem of Indian art collecting. Thomas and Martha Keehn became involved with the emerging modern Indian art movement after moving to India in 1953. In 1956, the Keehns hosted the most significant exhibition of its time, 8 Painters, held in New Dehli. Several works from this exhibition are being offered in this sale. Highlights from this collection include Husain’s Yatra (estimate: $300,000-500,000) and Ram Kumar’s Untitled (Boy and Goat) (estimate: $200,000-300,000).

Another work by MF Husain is Untitled (Horses), 1959 (estimate: $120,000-180,000). Through the uninhibited use of impasto in this work, Husain conveys the sense of raw unimpeded power of a herd of wild and untamed horses.

MF Husain’s Untitled (The Three Graces) (estimate: $400,000 – 750,000) is a monumental painting, looking towards ancient Greek mythology, depicting the three attendants of Eros and Aphrodite: Euphrosyne, Thalia, and Aglaia. Husain’s choice of these sensuous and immortal women from ancient Greece, a subject frequently depicted by Old Masters, demonstrates his ability to seamlessly meld international influences into his distinctive style.

Tyeb Mehta’s Untitled (Man vs. Horse) (estimate: $300,000-500,000) is one of the earliest larger scale paintings by the artist from his formative years. Inspired by Picasso’s Jeune garçon au cheval (Boy Leading a Horse), 1906, this work explores the communality of man and animal in powerful Cubist forms.

Other highlights in the sale include Imported Plant by Bikash Bhattacharjee (estimate: $80,000-100,000). An excellent example of his oeuvre, Imported Plant from the Times of India Group Collection exhibits the meticulous handling of paint and color imbuing this work with a naturalistic perfection that is remarkably beautiful.

Shibu Natesan’s Fly the Sky (estimate: $30,000-50,000) conjures dream-like images from fragments of memories of his native South India. This magnificent work depicts two men flying in a bright blue sky full of cumulus clouds as two other men watch in awe. Using different figure sizes in varying proportions, Natesan employs René Magritte’s technique to make space tangible.


*FRANCIS NEWTON SOUZA (1924-2002) Townscape oil on canvas 24 ¼ x 14 ¾ (54 x 37.5 cm.) Painted in 1955 Estimate: $180,000 – 220,000.

*SYED HAIDER RAZA (B. 1922) Rencontre oil on canvas 39 3/8 x 39 3/8 in. (100 x 100 cm.) Painted in 1977 Estimate: $80,000 – 120,000

*RINA BANERJEE (B. 1963) A World Made of Nature Created her Untidy Beauty, Captured her Maker’s Eye but not Once but Thrice “Culture” who Played her a Fool, Maimed her Walk and Unsweetened her Magic ink, acrylic and mica on paper 21 ¾ x 29 ¾ in. (55.3 x 75.7 cm.) Estimate: $12,000-18,000

*PRAJAKTA PALAV AHER (B. 1979) Untitled – I (Ganesha on a Train) acrylic on canvas 95 x 77 1/8 in. (241.3 x 196 cm.) Painted in 2007 Estimate: $18,000-25,000

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