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Untitled (Shiva and Parvati)

Untitled (Shiva and Parvati)
signed and dated 'Husain '69', signed in Hindi and initialed in Urdu (center right)
oil on canvas
45 ¾ x 32 in. (116.2 x 81.3 cm.)
Painted in 1969
Galerie du Grand-Mezel, Geneva
Acquired directly from the artist, Paris
Thence by descent
Acquired from the above by the present owner

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Lot Essay

In Untitled (Shiva and Parvati) Maqbool Fida Husain borrows from ancient Indian iconography and mythology, to miniature painting and temple sculpture. The two iconic lovers sit entwined in an intimate embrace in this image adapted from the canon of Brahmanical art, championing Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati as symbols of an ideal and eternal union.

The treatment of the figures here also draws from the temple sculptures of Mathura and Khajuraho that Husain discovered as early as 1948 when he travelled to Delhi with Francis Newton Souza. Husain recalls, "We went to Delhi together to see that big exhibition of Indian sculptures and miniatures which was shown in 1948 [...] It was humbling. I came back to Bombay in 1948 with five paintings, which was the turning point in my life. I deliberately picked up two or three periods of Indian history. One was the classical period of the Guptas. The very sensuous form of the female body. Next, was the Basholi period. The strong colours of the Basholi miniatures. The last was the folk element. With these three combined, and using colours – very boldly as I did with cinema hoardings [...] I went to town [...] That was the breaking point [...] To come out of the influence of British Academic painting and the Bengal revivalist school” (Artist statement, P. Nandy, The Illustrated Weekly of India, 4-10 December 1983). In this example from 1969, Husain captures all three aspects of classical Indian art in form, subject and palette.

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