A painting by Hungarian-Indian artist Amrita Sher-Gill was sold for $7.44 million in New Delhi – the highest for any Indian artist.
The painting in question is The Story Teller, completed by Amrita Sher-Gill in 1937. The auction was held on Saturday in New Delhi. All the bidders were Indian, due to the government policy that bars significant works like those of Sher-Gill to leave the country. The winning bid ended up fetching ₹61.8 crore ($7.44 million), setting a new record as the most expensive work ever sold by an Indian artist. The previous record was held by Sayed Haider Raza’s ‘Gestation’ at ₹51.75 crore, set earlier this year. The auction ended up gathering more than $22 million from the sale.
Amrita Sher-Gill was born in 1913 to an Indian father and a Hungarian mother. She died in 1941, merely at the age of 28 years. Despite her short life, Sher-Gill had already made a name for herself as an established artist during her lifetime. The limited number of works she could complete during her life has made her work all the more valuable.
Speaking about her, Minal Vazirani (co-founder of the auction house) said: “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.” Other artists and critics also expressed joy at not just the record set by Amrita Sher-Gill, but also the fact that she is now counted among the top blue-chip artists in the world.