Amrita Sher-Gil


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(b Budapest, 30 Jan. 1913; d Lahore, 5 Dec. 1941).

Indian painter, the daughter of an aristocratic and scholarly Sikh father and a mother who came from a cultured Hungarian family. Her very short life was divided fairly evenly between Europe and India. She showed a talent for drawing from childhood and studied painting in Paris 1929–34. Although she immersed herself in the bohemian life of the city, she did not identify with any of the avant-garde movements of the day, developing instead a romantic love of India. She declared that it was her artistic mission ‘to interpret the life of Indians, and particularly the poor Indians, pictorially’, but she was moved more by aesthetic concerns than by any sense of Social Realism. Her bold, flattened forms show the influence of Gauguin and Indian miniatures, but her work has a personal sensibility. She already had a considerable reputation by the time of her death at the age of 28 (possibly as the result of a botched abortion) and she has subsequently become something of a national heroine in India. The best collection of her work is in the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi.

Subjects: Art — History.

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