LONDON – On the 6th of October in London, a rare self-portrait by Amrita Sher-Gil, one of India’s most celebrated and talented artists, is to be sold in an auction of Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art. Another Sher-Gil painting had led the sale for our auction in New York on 18 earlier this year which sold for $2,920,000 – well over the $1.2/1.8 million estimate – and set a new record for any Indian female artist.
Painted in Paris, during her time at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux Arts, this work was given as a gift in 1931 to Boris Taslitzky, the artist’s fellow student and lover. The pair met in the studio of Lucien Simon, where Sher-Gil had enrolled, having already developed her skill to a considerable extent given her age. Her portraits during these years are of extraordinary quality, displaying clear influences from Paul Cezanne and Amedeo Modigliani, particularly in her construction of form and colour.
AMRITA SHER-GIL'S UNTITLED (SELF-PORTRAIT), 1931, WILL BE OFFERED IN SOTHEBY’S LONDON
MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY SOUTH ASIAN ART SALE ON 6 OCTOBER 2015. ESTIMATE: £1,500,000 —
In this painting, there are also unmissable similarities to the work of Frida Kahlo, with its dominant frontal pose, strong palette and emphasis on the features. Just like her art, Amrita’s life bore numerous parallels to that of Kahlo. For one, the two were women artists of Hungarian descent working within a male dominated Modernist movement. They were rebellious characters who chose to express their social, political and intellectual beliefs through their art. Today, the legacies of both women live on, having had a profound effect on the development of Modernism in their respective countries of origin, despite their tragically short lives.
Due to her sudden and untimely death at the age of 28, there are very few works by Sher-Gil. In December of 1976, the Government of India declared her illustrious works as National Treasures, prohibiting their exportation. As a result, 95 of her works will never be able to leave India, as they are in the permanent collections of museums and institutions.
AMRITA SHER-GIL'S UNTITLED (SELF PORTRAIT), OIL ON CANVAS, 1933 SOLD FOR $2,920,000 AT
SOTHEBY’S NEW YORK ON 18 MARCH 2015.
This painting is an excellent opportunity for collectors to acquire a work by Amrita that is outside of India and in free circulation. Its magic lies in the striking combination of white and red; the white of her blouse flashing against the amber red of the background. The enthralling power of this work is, no doubt, multiplied by the mystique and awe associated with the signature on the painting: A Sher-Gil.
This rare work will be on view in New York from September 11 through till September 19th in our Highlights exhibition. Subsequently it will be on view in London from October 2 through to October 7 as part of the India Art Week in London.