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Maqbool Fida Husain
Indian Households

12 x 18 feet
Courtesy of Usha Mittal © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Victoria and Albert Museum

Excerpt from Victoria and Albert Museum, London:

M.F. Husain: Master of Modern Indian Painting
Victoria and Albert Museum, London

M.F. Husain (1915-2011) is one of the most celebrated and internationally recognised Indian artists of the 20th century. Indian Civilization comprises a series of monumental triptych paintings which represent Husain’s vision of the richness of Indian culture and history. Capturing India’s vibrant cities, colourful Hindu festivals, iconic figures and historic events, these unique paintings were on view to the public for the first time.

Indian Households, 2008-2011

Husain reflects on the domestic lives of India’s citizens, showing the daily routines of three ordinary urban families. The major religions of India are represented, with three generations sharing their homes and their faith.


Excerpt from Aesthetica Magazine Review:
Aesthetica Magazine, by Hande Eagle, 07/20/2007

[Indian Households, 2008-2011]
Another triptych titled Indian Households, connotes the lives of three different families from three different religious faiths Muslim, Hindu and Sikh. Regarding this triptych Husain wrote, “The interiors of 3 Indian urban households tell a true story of our common people.” In the Muslim household the grandfather is with his back to us smoking a hookah while his daughter-in-law is on her knees on a prayer rug with a rehal presumably housing a Quran.

His granddaughter is sat on a charpoy with a raw green mango on her lap. His grandson is sketching the horse figure on the floor. In the Hindu household, Husain depicts “Natraj”, the household deity, in a circle. The patriarchal head of the family, the father, is reading his morning paper while his daughter reclines on the floor reading a book.

His son is about to leave for school as his wife extends an umbrella to her son. A toddler seeking her attention is on her lap. In the Sikh household, quoting directly from Husain’s hand writing in the guide, “a hard working truck driver is proud to see his son Bittu in Fanji uniform, as the calendar poster of Gura Govind Singh is posted on the wall.” His wife is sowing on a Singer machine and his daughter is in “perfect posture of Punjab di Kudi.”

The alarm clock in the background points to midday and the events waiting to unravel. The three panels of the painting continue from one to the other seamlessly as if the families are all in one room. This evokes the peaceful feeling that we are united under one roof, the earth and also under a single God (which in effect is intrinsically a Muslim belief) regardless of our respective religious beliefs.


Maqbool Fida Husain, (M. F. Husain), Indian, (1913-2011)
b. September 17, 1913, Pandharpur, India
d. 2011

Art in Context - Projects:
Art in Context - Art for the Day: September 17

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