Amrita Sher-Gil’s artwork, ‘In the Ladies’ Enclosure’ (1938), sold for Rs 37.8 crore (USD 5.14 million). It was auctioned at Saffronart in Mumbai on Tuesday. This is the artist’s highest auction price and the second-most expensive Indian artwork.
V S Gaitonde’s Untitled (1961), which sold for Rs 39.98 crore in March this year at Saffronart, is still the most costly piece of art created by an Indian artist. The previous high for Sher-Gil was Rs 18.7 crore for ‘The Little Girl in Blue’ (1934) at Sotheby’s auction in Mumbai in 2018, according to art market data firm Artery India.
Saffronart CEO and co-founder, Dinesh Vazirani in a statement said: ‘The record-breaking sale of Amrita Sher-Gil’s seminal painting is a clear indication of her artistic merit and is a testament to her skill and talent. The work highlights her growth and development as an artist and is a culmination of years of coming into her own as an artist of repute.’
He further said: ‘It is, additionally, a rare work of the artist from that particular period to emerge in the art market and we are honoured to have played a part in creating a new benchmark with this auction.’
The oil on canvas painting, titled ‘In the Ladies’ Enclosure,’ dates from 1938, a few years after Sher-Gil returned to India. It portrays women of various ages engaged in various activities in a rural setting.
Sher-Gil was inspired to paint at a young age and has been dubbed ‘one of the greatest avant-garde women artists of the early 20th century.’
She was born to Hungarian-Jewish opera singer Marie Antoinette Gottesmann and Sikh scholar, photographer and nobleman Umrao Singh Sher-Gil Majithia. In 1929, she enrolled in the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and travelled throughout her life to nations such as France, Turkey and India to study various art styles.
Generations of Indian painters have been impacted by her work. Her paintings have been designated as National Art Treasures by the Indian government and the majority of them are on display at the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi.