An artwork by Amrita Sher-Gil fetched $7.4 million (Rs 61.8 crore) at a recent auction, setting a record for the highest price achieved by an Indian artist. The artwork, titled ‘The Story Teller‘, was painted by Ms Sher-Gil in 1937. SaffronArt, the auction house, organised the sale on Saturday night. This comes just 10 days after modernist Syed Haider Raza’s painting titled ‘Gestation‘ fetched Rs 51.7 crore at Pundole auction house. In a page dedicated to the artwork, SaffronArt said the legendary artist sought to explore the realm of domestic life in ‘The Story Teller‘.
“The sale of this particular work is an important milestone in the market. However, equally important, is the work itself – it is an exceptional painting as a cornerstone in Sher-Gil’s work as such. She is one of India’s national art treasures, and this type of work is quite rare to come across for sale,” said Minal Vazirani, the auction house’s co-founder.
Ms Sher-Gil’s works have been auctioned 84 times. Her oldest auction was recorded on MutualArt for the artwork Village Group, sold at English auction house Sotheby’s as early as 1992.
She was born in Budapest in 1913. Her father, Umrao Singh Sher-Gil, belonged to an aristocratic family in Punjab and was a scholar of Sanskrit and Persian.
Ms Sher-Gil’s mother Marie Antoinette was a Hungarian national and trained opera singer.
Ms Sher-Gil showed interest in painting and drawing at the age of five. Her early works, in watercolours, showed vibrant illustrations of Hungarian fairy tales with captivating characters.
The Sher-Gil family came to India in 1921 and settled in Shimla. The artist died in 1941, at the age of 28.