]n 1973, the year this painting was created, Husain was awarded the honor of Padma Bhushan. Husain's paintings of this period reflect his love of India and his empathy and knowledge of rural life in India. Birds in Tree is a prime example of Husain returning to his roots and a favorite theme of his 'Indian village life' complete with red beaked Indian parakeets, a horse in the background and two peasant women, one with a caged parakeet. Though on a far greater scale to traditional miniature paintings, Birds in Tree is comparable in terms of Husain's choice of color palette composed of vivid yellows, greens and reds. Another similarity to the traditional miniaturist school is the manner in which Husain has compartmentalized the canvas and his treatment of space, each section brimming with activity, yet merging together eventually into a seamless vision of the simplicity of life in rural India.
Interesting to note is that this particular depiction of horses is unlike any of Husain's typical horses, in that the animal appears docile and submissive, in complete contrast to his usual and more legendary portrayals of crazed fearsome beasts, powerful with rearing heads and flaring nostrils in the vein of war horses.
Husain is inspired by the folk tales and fairy tales that are so much a part of life in India. In fact Husain's earliest artistic endeavors included designing children's toys.There is a certain quality of naivet© resonating from this work which is also evident in the toy- like horse and multitude of birds.
According to the current owner:
"My parents, Phyllis and Art Manger were first introduced to the works of M.F. Husain at La Galerie Du Grand-Mezel in Geneva, Switzerland 1969. My father retired from the U.S. Navy and in 1968 our family moved to Geneva where he was Chief of Administrative Management for the World Health Organization. In 1971 his work took him to New Delhi, India. On September 28, 1973 both my parents traveled to India and visited M.F. Husain. They bought "Birds-In-Tree" at this time and invited him to visit them the following year."