New Delhi, September 18
Fetching a whopping Rs 61.8 crore, avant-garde artist Amrita Sher-gil’s oil on canvas “The Story Teller” has unseated Sayed Haider Raza’s “Gestation” in becoming the most expensive work of Indian art sold at auction worldwide.
The 1937 artwork, sold here on Saturday at Saffronart's ‘Evening Sale: Modern Art’, was among the 70 plus art pieces by eminent artists including MF Husain, VS Gaitonde, Jamini Roy and FS Souza, featured in the auction.
It was only last month that Raza’s 1989 “Gestation”, also an oil-on-canvas painting, was sold at Rs 51.75 crore by Pundole's auction house in Mumbai, becoming the most expensive Indian artwork ever sold at auction.
“We are delighted to have set multiple artist records at our Evening Sale in New Delhi this September. Most significantly, the record price achieved by Amrita Sher-Gil’s ‘The Story Teller’ is an important milestone in the Indian art market and testament to the artist’s immense skill and enduring legacy as one of India's art treasures,” said Dinesh Vazirani, CEO and co-founder of Saffronart.
“The Story Teller”, touted to be among the 12 works selected by Sher-Gil herself as her most important works, is widely considered an example of the artist's most honest and expressive compositions.
The dominant subjects for the eminent artist are women, primarily because she could lend her empathetic self most easily to their condition. The painting was first exhibited at Sher-Gil's successful solo exhibition at Faletti's Hotel, Lahore, in November 1937.
Her other well-known portraits of women include “Three Girls”, “Women on the Charpai”, “Hill Women”, and “Young Girls”.
Born to Indian father and Hungarian mother on January 30, 1913 in Budapest, Hungary, Sher-Gil came to be known as one of the greatest avant-garde women artists for her oeuvre.
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.
In 1976, she was declared one of India's nine 'National Art Treasure' artists by the Archaeological Survey of India.
Besides Sher-Gil, the auction smashed a few other records as well.
For instance, renowned painter and art educator KK Hebbar's 1959 untitled work, sold for Rs 2.64 crore -- more than seven times its higher estimate -- made a world record for the highest price achieved by the artist globally.
It also witnessed sale of Raza's monumental work “Earth” for Rs 19.2 crore, early expressionist Tyeb Mehta's “Red Figure” for Rs 9 crore and FN Souza's “Caribbean Palm” for Rs 4.56 crore.
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