Avant-garde artist Amrita Sher-gil’s oil on canvas “The Story Teller” has surpassed Sayed Haider Raza’s “Gestation” to become the most expensive work of Indian art sold at auction worldwide, fetching a whopping Rs 61.8 crore.
Only last month, Pundole’s auction house in Mumbai sold Raza’s 1989 oil-on-canvas painting “Gestation” for Rs 51.75 crore, making it the most expensive Indian artwork ever sold at auction.
“The Story Teller,” hailed as one of Sher-Gil’s 12 most important works, is widely regarded as an example of the artist’s most honest and expressive compositions. Women are the artist’s prominent subjects, primarily because she can easily offer her compassionate personality to their plight. The artwork was initially shown in November 1937 at Sher-Gil’s successful solo exhibition at Faletti’s Hotel in Lahore.
Her other well-known female portraits include “Three Girls”, “Women on the Charpai”, “Hill Women”, and “Young Girls”.
Sher-Gil, who was born on January 30, 1913, in Budapest, Hungary to an Indian father and a Hungarian mother, is renowned as one of the best avant-garde woman painters for her work.
From the early age of five, Sher-Gil immersed herself in drawing and painting with watercolour. Her early works consisted of vibrant illustrations of Hungarian fairy tales with captivating characters. In 1921, the Sher-Gil family returned to India and settled in Shimla.
It was there that she honed her observational skills, capturing the essence of those around her through meticulous sketches. She died at the young age of 28 in 1941.
Besides Sher-Gil, the auction smashed a few other records as well.
For example, acclaimed painter and art educator KK Hebbar’s 1959 untitled work sold for Rs 2.64 crore — more than seven times its higher estimate — setting a world record for the artist’s highest price ever paid.
It also saw the sale of Raza’s significant piece “Earth” for Rs 19.2 crore, Tyeb Mehta’s early expressionist work “Red Figure” for Rs 9 lakh, and FN Souza’s “Caribbean Palm” for Rs 4.56 crore.
(With inputs from PTI)
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