Identity: Amrita Sher-Gil, a Hungarian-Indian painter, whose remarkable contribution to Indian art has solidified her status as a pioneering modernist.
Birth: Born in 1913 in Budapest, Amrita Sher-Gil was the daughter of Umrao Singh Sher-Gil, an erudite scholar of Sanskrit and Persian from an aristocratic family in Punjab, and Marie Antoinette, a Hungarian opera singer.
This topic of “Amrita Sher-Gil” is important from the perspective of the UPSC IAS Examination, which falls under General Studies Portion.
The Record-breaking Sale
In recent news, Amrita Sher-Gil’s masterpiece, “The Story Teller,” has fetched a staggering price of Rs 61.8 crore in the Indian art market. This achievement marks a significant milestone, as it surpasses the previous high of ₹51.75 crore for S H Raza’s “Gestation” artwork. The exchange rate for this sale stands at $7.45 million, underlining the global recognition of her talent.
A Glimpse into “The Story Teller”
Amrita Sher-Gil painted “The Story Teller” in 1937, during a period characterized by the merging of European and Indian artistic influences. Her dominant subjects, often women, featured prominently in her works. In November 1937, the painting was exhibited at Faletti’s Hotel in Lahore, with the inauguration attended by notable figures such as Manohar Lal, the Finance Minister of the Punjab government, and Charles Fabri, a Hungarian archaeologist and Lahore Museum curator, who reviewed the exhibit for the Civil and Military Gazette.
The Portfolio Plan
Sher-Gil’s legacy lives on through her posthumously published portfolio, which includes an introduction by Karl Khandalavala, an art critic, and collector. The portfolio comprises twelve important works, carefully selected by Sher-Gil herself.
Inspiration from Pahari Paintings
Amrita Sher-Gil drew inspiration from Pahari paintings, as noted by Karl Khandalavala. These paintings distinguish themselves from Basohli miniatures through their technique, vividness, and lyricism.
Leading the Indian Art Market
Amrita Sher-Gil has been a driving force in the Indian art market, becoming the first woman to hold such a position. Her works have consistently set records, including A Ramachandran’s “Autobiography of an Insect in the Lotus Pond,” which exceeded estimates by nearly four times, and K K Hebbar’s artwork, which surpassed estimates by over seven times in a sale from 1959.
Factors for Market Strength
The Indian art market’s robustness can be attributed to several factors, including an increasing number of collectors with the financial capability and desire for building distinguished collections. Additionally, the scarcity of modernist works has further boosted demand.
Rarity of Amrita Sher-Gil’s Works
Amrita Sher-Gil’s oeuvre is characterized by rarity, with fewer than 200 paintings in existence. While the National Gallery of Modern Art owns a significant number of her works, some remain in private collections, with 30-40 paintings scattered among them.