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Amrita Sher Gil View Artworks of Amrita Sher Gil Back to Artist

Amrita Shergil came in at a time when the scene in Indian painting was vastly dominated by the Bengal School of Art represented by the likes of Abindranath Tagore and Jamini Roy.  The school marked the distinct fusion of classic Indian painting style with modern aesthetics. By and large, the focus of the school was not to copy the west but to look back at Indian culture for inspiration and style. Amrita furthered the aesthetics of the Bengal School by merging Indian and European sensibilities in her work. Influenced by Indian art forms such as miniature art and the Ajanta – Ellora cave paintings, Amrita Shergil revolutionized Indian art in the way she blended the outlines of ‘modern European painting’ with primitive forms. She fused the aesthetics of Indian cave paintings with the techniques of oil painting she had learnt at Paris.


Amrita Shergil was born in Budapest in 1913 to a Sikh aristocrat father and a Hungarian opera singer mother. Her family moved to Shimla in 1921, where Amrita was first home schooled in art by Major Whitmarsh . She later joined classes to study painting in art classes held by an artist named Beven Pateman. Following encouragement from her Hungarian uncle, Amrta, alongwith her sister and mother, travelled to Europe to continue her education. In France, she was enrolled at the Ecole Superieure des Beaux Arts where she studied the academic style of painting, becoming the youngest artist and only Asian to be awarded a gold medal and election as an Associate Member to the Grand Salon.


Known mostly for her poignant portraits of Indian women, Amrita Shergill is known to have travelled all over India, looking for her women subjects. Works such as Bride’s Toilet, Three Girls, The Child Bride and Tribal Women evoke a poignant world of rural Indian women in bright, colourful clothes, seemingly passive and devoid of an agency through their demeanour but the very passivity of the body language and the quiet, brooding but interrogating eyes questioning the status quo, as it were. There is something detached and dreamy about Amrita’s works, a characteristic that lends her paintings a certain enigma. There is a quiet melancholy in the works, almost lyrical but the portrayal is never complete, somehow something is left of that reality for the viewer to fill the gaps in. It is like the painter is half outsider, half insider trying to gaze into the veins of a society, much like Amrita Shergill’s hybrid cultural roots.




  1929 The Academie de la Grande Chaumiere, Paris(Tutee of P.Vaillant)

  1929 Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts(Tutee of Luican Simon)

  1924 School of Santa Annunciata, Florence

Selected Posthumous Exhibitions

  2014 'Amrita Sher-Gil and Lionel Wendt', Jhaveri Contemporary, Mumbai

  2014 'Amrita Sher-Gil: The Passionate Quest', presented by National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), New Delhi and Ministry of Culture, Government of India at National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), New Delhi

  2013 'Amrita Sher-Gil: Birth Centenary Celebration', presented by National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), New Delhi and Ministry of Culture, Government of India at National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), New Delhi

  2013 Celebrated as the Birth Centenary Year of Amrita Sher-Gil. UNESCO Hungary declared 2013 as the International Year of Sher-Gil

  2013 ‘The Self in Making’, Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA), New Delhi

  2013 'Companionable Silences', Palais de Tokyo, Paris

  2013 Exhibition of Amrita Sher-Gil and Hungary at the Vaszary Villa, Balatonfured, Hungary

  2011 'Ethos V: Indian Art Through the Lens of History (1900 to 1980), Indigo Blue Art, Singapore

  2010-11 'A Collection', Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai

  2009 'Kalpana: Figurative Art in India', presented by The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) at Aicon Gallery, London; The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR)

  2008-09 'Modern India', organized by Institut Valencià d'Art Modern (IVAM) and Casa Asia, in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture at Valencia, Spain

  2007 'Amrita Sher-Gil', Tate Modern, London organised in collaboration with the Haus der Kunst, Munich; the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), New Delhi and the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, New Delhi

  2006-07 'Amrita Sher-Gil: An Indian Artist Family in the 20th Century', Haus der Kunst, Munich in collaboration with National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, Ministry of Culture, Government of India, New Delhi, and Goethe-Institut, New Delhi

  2004 ‘Amrita Sher-Gil: Icon – Works & Memorabilia from Her Last Years’, Chatterjee & Lal, Mumbai

  2004 'Rabindranath Tagore, Amrita Sher-Gil, Jamini Roy’, Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi

  2002 ‘Amrita Sher-Gil’, Institut Hongrois de Paris

  2001 ‘Amrita Sher-Gil: The Indian painter and Her French and Hungarian Connections’, Ernst Museum, Budapest

  1998 ‘Raja Ravi Varma, Amrita Sher-Gil Restored’, held in New Delhi by Indian National Trust and Cultural Heritage and National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA)

  1985 ‘Artistes Indiens en France’, Ministere de la Culture, Centre National des Arts Plastiques, Paris

  1982 ‘Six Indian Painters’, Tate Britain, London

  1941 The Punjab Literary League Hall, Lahore



Selected Exhibitions

  1937 Faletti’s Hotel, Lahore

  1937 Allahabad University, Allahabad

  1937 Imperial Hotel, New Delhi

  1936 Hyderabad

  1936 Taj Mahal Hotel, Mumbai

  1935 Allahabad

  1935 New Delhi

  1933 Salon De Tuilleries, Paris

  1933 Grand Salon, Paris

  1932 Grand Salon, Paris

  1930 Theatre Pigalle, Paris


  1937 Annual Exhibition, Bombay Art Society, Mumbai

  1935 Annual Exhibition, Simla Fine Arts Society


Honours and Awards


  1999-2001 A television documentary titled Amrita Sher-Gil (Duration: 53 minutes) made by renowned Hungarian Cinematographer and Film-maker Sandor Sara, based on the life of the artist; subsequently-part I (Duration: 52 minutes), part II (Duration: 51 minutes), part III (Duration: 51 minutes) were made.

  1978 Indian Postal Service releases a postage stamp depiciting Sher-Gil's painting Hill Women

  1976 Declared a ‘National Art Treasure’ artist by the Archaeological Survey of India, Government of India

  1968-69 Films Divison of India produces a documentary film Amrita Sher-Gil, based on the life and works of Amrita Sher-Gil (Director: B.D.Garga; Duration: 19 minutes)

  1940 Bombay Art Society Award, Mumbai

  1937 Gold Medal, 46th Annual Exhibition, Bombay Art Society, Mumbai

  1935 Simla Fine Arts Society Fine Arts Prize (rejected)

  1933 Gold Medal, Grand Salon, Paris

  1933 Elected Associate of the Grand Salon, Paris

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