• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 12166

    Latin American Art

    25 - 26 May 2016, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 129

    Miguel Covarrubias (1904-1957)

    Subhas Chandra Bose

    Price Realised  


    Miguel Covarrubias (1904-1957)
    Subhas Chandra Bose
    signed 'COVARRUBIAS' (lower left) inscribed 'Subhas Chandra Bose, Hindu Quisling' (lower center) inscribed by an unknown hand 'Caricature of Subhas Chandra Bose by Miguel Covarrubias, Sept 16' (on the verso)
    gouache on paper
    11 5/8 x 8 1/4 in. (29.5 x 21 cm.)
    Executed in 1944.

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    This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by Adriana Williams, dated 1 April 2016.

    "Freedom is not given, it is taken…For an enslaved people, there can be no greater pride, no higher honor, than to be the first soldier in the army of liberation…No real change in history has ever been achieved by discussions."[1]

    A self-proclaimed "Indian Pilgrim,"[2] Subhas Chandra Bose (1897-1945) was a controversial figure in India’s fight for independence from Great Britain.  Revered with the Hindi title Netaji or “respected leader,” albeit a flawed one who aligned himself with Axis powers during World War II, Bose was a fierce nationalist who vehemently opposed British rule and fought for a free India until his untimely death in 1945.  A member of the Indian National Congress from 1921 to 1940, Bose was targeted early on by the colonial government for his revolutionary ideas which called for an aggressive rejection of British rule and encouraged violence when necessary--a stark contrast to the nonviolent civil disobedience advocated by Bose’s former mentor, Mahatma Gandhi. 

    The present image of Subhas Chandra Bose, executed in 1944 by Miguel Covarrubias to accompany George Creel’s article “The Guilty,” depicts the contentious leader at the height of his international popularity and infamy. In the article, published in the American Magazine Collier’s in 1944, Creel provides a derisive account of Bose’s politics and actions, accusing his acts of patriotism as a ruse, a “cloak for a ruthless ambition that took no account of honor, honesty or love of country.”[3] Reminiscent of the political and historical figures Covarrubias depicted for his “Impossible Interviews” series published in Vanity Fair in the 1930s, here Covarrubias presents Bose in his typical caricaturist style. Perhaps ironically, Covarrubias has adorned Bose with a lei, a sign of admiration in Asian and Polynesian cultures, and a white “Gandhi cap,” a military cap appropriated by Mahatma Gandhi and popularized as a symbol of the independence movement, brilliantly capturing the divisive aura surrounding one of India’s most beloved and contentious historical figures.

    1 Subhas Chandra Bose, speech at a military review of the Indian National Army (5 July 1943), from “Fundamental conflicts in Indian nationhood: Gandhi Vs Revolutionaries”, http://www.subhaschandrabose.org/fundamental-conflicts-indian-nationhood-gandhi-vs-revolutionaries#sthash.y164d0Q9.dpuf, accessed 3.14.2016.
    2 Such is the title of Subhas Chandra Bose’s unfinished autobiography, An Indian Pilgrim, 1948.
    3 G.Creel, "The Guilty: Subhas Chandra Bose", Collier's, 30 September 1944.

    Pre-Lot Text



    G.Creel, "The Guilty: Subhas Chandra Bose", Collier's, 30 September 1944 (illustrated in color).