Amrita Sher-Gil used her brush strokes to revolutionize a new artistic expression of blending west to east. She would call herself the nickname of ‘a self-opinionated monkey’. Amrita lived a colorful scandalous life as a bold protagonist bearing an aggressively modern outlook who was unafraid to stick to her convictions. The artist unveiled the women of India in 1930, flaunting them as the subject and object of her paintings. Hues from her rendered portraitures extracted tints and shades from an Indian palette. She unfolded many moods and contours of sentimental interest and pored them with emphasis, painting new anatomy to art and expression.

It is illegal to take her paintings outside India which were declared National Treasure to the Indian government since 1976!

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Amrita Sher-Gil_©
Amrita Sher-Gil- 10 Iconic Artworks - Sheet2
Amrita Sher-Gil_©

Amrita Sher-Gil (1913- 1941)

Born on a Thursday of 30th January 1913, in Budapest, Amruta Sher-Gil was a part of a cultured and intellectual family. Her mother, a Hungarian-Jewish opera singer, and her father, a Punjabi Sikh aristocrat who was a Sanskrit and Persian scholar, both supported her inclination to art. Her ravel expeditions were influenced deeply by her artwork. She soon realized that her canvas seeks traces to the Indian soul.

Post-war, the artist migrated to Shimla in India in 1921. She studied in Academie de la Grande Chamiere in Paris and received formal training from Ecole des beaux-arts Paris (1930-1934), the source code of the art movement. She felt strong gravitation towards India and returned in 1935 to interpret the life of Indians.

1.Group of three girls (1935), 92.5 cm x 66.6 cm.

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Group of three girls _© The estate of Amrita Sher-Gil.

Sher-Gil painted three girls after returning to India, during 1937 it received a gold medal from the Bombay Art Society. The artist has attempted to capture the realistic outlook of a non-western female with silent resolve. The non-existence of expression and viewpoints culturally in their lives is the highest feminine trait of that era. She captures new moods and anatomy of the feminine unregarding the portrayal of the male-dominated art expression of a woman.

Her canvas boils down all the sentimental aesthetics. The artist lived a limited life of 29 years and yet achieved an artistic heritage having timeless character.

2. The Little Girl in Blue (1934). 48 cm x 40.6 cm.

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The Little girl in blue _© The estate of Amrita Sher-Gil

This painting fetched Rs.18.69 crore in an auction in 2018 at the Sotheby’s auction in Mumbai. The subject in the blue is the 8-year-old cousin of Sher-Gil, Babit Kaur who is a resident of Shimla.

3. Villagers Going to the Market (1937) 46 cm x 54.3 cm.

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Villagers going to the market _© The estate of Amrita Sher-Gil

The painting has traces of the artist’s visit to Ajanta and a fresco-like design of the south. The portrait showcases the raw essence of Indians in motion in a typical village. The color and form are simple yet have an Indian expression.

4. In the Ladies Enclosure (1938) 21.5 cm x 31.5 cm

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In the ladies enclosure _© The estate of Amrita Sher-Gil

The painting auctioned for Rs. 37.8 crores at Saffronart’s summer lives auction involving Rajput and Pahari miniatures. The painting is rendered with Indian hues. The women and the little girls are transcribing a typical day in their life in action. Bring spotlight back to the females of the society of the 1930s.

5. Hill Women (1935). 67.5 cm x 89 cm.

Image 7_ Hill Woman _©The estate of Amrita Sher-Gil

In 1978, Hill women showing the life of rural Indian women was chosen as a special postal stamp by India post. The dark-colored body of those women was burdened and surrendered to fate. Women’s faces were sullen after a busy day. The women on canvas share their segregated selves within their households. 

6. Self Portrait (1930). 72 cm x 92.5 cm.

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Self-portrait _© The estate of Amrita Sher-Gil

She is called India’s Frida Kahlo.The artist has depicted human conditions by aligning with the abstract formality of expressions. The crimson lips are the feminine source in the portrait reflect a shared self through her eye contact in limitations.

7. Brides Toilet (1937) – Oil on Canvas, 146cm x 88.8cm.

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Brides Toilet _© The estate of Amrita Sher-Gil

Brides Toilet, Brahmacharis, and South Indian villagers going to the market belong to the south Indian trilogy.Ajanta Ellora’s cave painting gave inspiration to Brides Toilet. The simplicity and form of Ajanta Ellora have reflected The painting depicts a bride having fair complexion in focus alone but metaphorically highlighting class and racial difference in the Indian context.

8. Young Girls (1935) 134 cm x 164 cm

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Young Girls _©The estate of Amrita Sher-Gil

Her debut painting received a gold medal in the Paris salon when she was 19.The painting carries two young women each with personalities that contradict. She painted her sister appearing confident and outgoing while her friend depicted with hair covering her face for reassurance. The painting is a reflection of the self-interpreting personal turmoil the artist was experiencing during that phase.

9. Sleeping Woman (1933) 112.5 cm x 79 cm  

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Sleeping woman _©The estate of Amrita Sher-Gil

The brown female nude body is a self-portrait artwork of the artist. The contours on the delicate nude body are abstracted rebellious contours embracing her sexuality to lead a liberating life. Later, her strokes unfolded with striking colors, powerful voices of female voices in Indian art.

10. Self Portrait (1931) – Oil on Canvas, 48 cm x 40.6cm.

Self-portrait_©The estate of Amrita Sher-Gil

The self-portrait is an expression of herself.  Bold and confident posture allowing the brain to have opinions in the era of male dominance. The artist draws a connection to the viewers without looking at them. The Lady on canvas is certain with her expectation from her own life, Does not return gaze or attention to the others for one’s action.


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  5. Mzezewa, T.(2021).Amrita Sher-Gil: often overlooked Indian art pioneer. Asia Samachar. Available at: [Accessed 08 October 2021].
  6. (2014). A European summer with four Indian artist. The Saffron Art Blog. Available at: [Accessed 08 October 2021].
  7. Cheema, A. (2019). Retrospective: Amrita Sher Gil.  Art now Pakistan. Available at: [Accessed 08 October 2021].
  8. (2010).Amrita Sher-Gil, Indian Painter. India Net zone. Available at: [Accessed 08 October 2021].
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Nikita believes in constantly feeding all her curiosity by learning, unlearning and relearning. Being deeply passionate about trying things first hand, nothing thrills her more than adventures and new experiences refusing to missing out things in life. When in her me time she enjoys reading fictions and expresses through poems.

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