Property from a Private American Collector

Banaras Ghat

Banaras Ghat
signed 'Husain' (lower right); further inscribed 'Banaras Ghat by M. F. Husain' and bearing Kumar Gallery Delhi stamp (on the reverse)
oil on wood
35½ x 24 in. (90.2 x 61 cm.)
Christie's New York, 17 September 2003, lot 145
Formerly from the Harry N. Abrams Family Collection, New York
Kumar Gallery, New Delhi
R. Bartholomew and S. S. Kapur, Husain, New York, 1986, pl. 99 (illustrated)

Lot Essay

In 1960, M.F. Husain and Ram Kumar visited Banaras. They were immediately taken by the city and their trip inspired a series of paintings and serigraphs.

"Twenty years since Ram Kumar and myself sailed silently close to the ghats of Varanasi, my fascination for the eternal city is ever growing [...] Every morning the proverbial Morn of Banares (Subah-e-Banares) would glow in gold and we pass by many ghats without a word. Only later we break out silence at a roadside Bengali coffeehouse [...]!"
(D. Nadkarni, usain: Riding the Lightning, Mumbai, 1996, p. 100)

In the vertical composition of Banaras Ghat, Husain depicts the banks of the Ganges River with semi-abstract temples, houses and chawls crowded together, almost overlapping with each other and ascending towards the deep glow of the red sky. The rough black outlines and thick layers of paint suggest a rugged yet robust scene.

"On the ghats of Banaras [the] bathers bathe in ancient lava, so thick are the encrustations of his impasto, so acute his sense of the timelessness of the ritual he saw performed on those hoary steps on the river's edge. anaras Ghat, in its fusion of theme, forms, and composition is an example of the correspondence achieved by the artist between form and feeling."
(R. Bartholomew and S. Kapur, usain, New York, 1971, p. 4)

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