Amrita Sher-Gil’s ‘The Story Teller’ Sets World Record at Auction

Amrita Sher-Gil’s 1937 masterpiece, “The Story Teller,” achieved a record-breaking sale of Rs 61.8 crore ($7.44 million) on September 16, marking the highest price ever paid for a work by an Indian artist. The painting, created during a pivotal period in Sher-Gil’s career, led Saffronart’s Evening Sale: Modern Art, featuring over 70 artworks by prominent artists like V S Gaitonde, S H Raza, Tyeb Mehta, M F Husain, F N Souza, and Akbar Padamsee.

What was the previous record for the most expensive Indian artwork sold at auction, and whose work held that record?

Prior to “The Story Teller,” the most expensive Indian artwork sold at auction was S H Raza’s “Gestation,” which fetched ₹51.75 crore.

What distinguishes “The Story Teller” as a significant work in Amrita Sher-Gil’s career?

“The Story Teller” was executed during a crucial formative period in Sher-Gil’s career, merging European and Indian influences into her unique artistic language. It features intimate depictions of women, a recurring theme in her work, and is considered one of her most honest and expressive compositions.

How did Amrita Sher-Gil’s background and experiences influence her art?

Born to an Indian Sikh aristocrat father and Hungarian-Jewish opera singer mother, Sher-Gil’s upbringing and travels influenced her art. Her time in Paris exposed her to post-impressionism and bohemian culture, while her Indian heritage and travels across the country contributed to her distinctive style, which drew from miniatures and Ajanta paintings.

What is the significance of Amrita Sher-Gil’s statement, “Europe belongs to Picasso, Matisse, Braque… India belongs only to me”?

This statement reflects Sher-Gil’s deep connection to India and her belief that her artistic identity was uniquely tied to the country, setting her apart from European artists.

Why is Amrita Sher-Gil considered a “national treasure” by the Indian government?

Amrita Sher-Gil is designated a “national treasure” by the Indian government, which prohibits her artworks in India from being exported to other countries, recognizing her immense cultural and artistic importance to India.


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