Maqbool Fida Husain, ‘Untitled (Three Heads)’, Christie's South Asian + Chinese

MF Husain was deeply inspired by village life which he idealized as being close to the essence of Indian sensibility. His humanity shines through in his dignified portraits.

"Husain's men and women, outwardly simple and unsophisticated, are highly conscious beings. They are conscious of being channels through which life runs its course. Very often they are caught listening and intent upon that flood within them, tense because of what they hear, with eyes of solemn curiosity and a mantle of silence around them. Even in groups, sitting or standing together, these men and women are supremely solitary. They do not communicate with each other. They remain locked in a binding compassion, in a unity of colour and composition divided by a wonderously understanding line." (S. S. Kapur, Husain, Lalit Kala Akedemi, New Delhi 1961, p. v)

Contemplative and self-absorbed, the protagonists in Untitled (Three Heads), deliberately avoid the gaze, monumental in their silence. Their proud carriage and indomitable spirits are charged with the powerful symbolism of vermilion powder and the hand gesture reminiscent of a classical musician. The predominately blue palette conveys strength and solidarity. "Husain does not only represent life, he annotates it, and the postulate of that annotation is the utter marvel of it all." (S. S. Kapur, Husain, Lalit Kala Akedemi, New Delhi 1961, p. v)

Signature: signed in Hindi and Urdu (upper left)

Image rights: [Christie's](

Ithaca, Cornell University Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Modern Indian Art, April - June, 2006

Manifestations VII, Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi, 2012, Modern Indian Art, exhibition catalogue, Ithaca, 2006, figure 2 (illustrated)

Formerly from a Private Maryland Collection

Sotheby's New York, 22 March 2007, lot 38

About Maqbool Fida Husain

A controversial artist known for narrative paintings done in a flat, Cubist style, Maqbool Fida Husain is regarded by some as the Picasso of India. A member of the Bombay Progressive Arts Group, Husain sought to create a modern Indian art form for the newly freed nation of India. Threatened and criticized by Hindu nationalist groups for his treatment of such sensitive subject matter as nude Hindu goddesses, the artist entered into a self-imposed exile. Self-taught, he painted Indian themes in the style of contemporary European artists, most notably Paul Klee. Husain’s depictions of historic figures, rural and urban Indian life, and religious iconography grew increasingly experimental over his lifetime, culminating with an unfinished series of triptychs, “Indian Civilization,” which pays tribute to Indian history and reveals Husain’s own personal mythology.

Indian, 1915-2011, Pandharpur, India, based in London, United Kingdom