Born in 1895 in Wazirabad, a small town in Punjab, Allah Bux started as an apprentice to a sign painter and then moved on to painting theater sets in Calcutta and Bombay. Now known as a leading proponent of European Academic Classicism in South Asia, Bux's depictions of scenes from Hindu mythology and Punjabi village life and folklore were inspired by colonial styles and tastes that were introduced in the subcontinent in the Eighteenth Century. Borrowing the romanticism of the Western works he saw, as well as their medium of oil, the artist built his reputation by creating beautiful images heavily influenced by local and folk cultural heritage.
Moving to Lahore in 1919, Bux rapidly gained recognition, developing a wide circle of admirers and being bestowed the honorific of 'Ustad' or master in recognition of his abilities and achievements as an artist. After the Partition, he chose to remain in Lahore and continued to depict idyllic landscapes and scenes from Pakistani life and mythology, making his oeuvre a fascinating testimony of a national visual culture in the making.
The present lot, a landscape from the artist's later years, illustrates the mastery Bux achieved in capturing romantic scenes that underlined the sentimental nature of Punjabi village life. Here, a stand of trees and a small pond are lit up by the last rays of the sun, which also streak the darkening sky with fiery gold ribbons. Marking the time when farmers return from the fields to their families, this painting, though absent of figures, is a joyous celebration of labor and love. "[Bux] was as versatile with media as with subject matter [...] His painting was realistic with a romantic edge, inspired by the Indo-Western style practiced in Bombay and the European paintings in the Royal Patiala collection" (M. Sirhandi, Contemporary Painting in Pakistan, Lahore, 1992, p. 27).