2015-03-16 / .

Rare Amrita Sher-Gill portrait in New York auction

New Delhi: A self-portrait by enigmatic Indian painter Amrita Sher-Gill is set to go under the hammer as part of Sotheby's auction in New York on March 18. Born to an Indian Sikh father and Hungarian mother, Sher Gill's untitled self portrait she painted in 1932 as a 19 year old is estimated to fetch between USD 1.2 million to USD 1.8 million at the Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art sale. "A slight hint of an enigmatic smile and a mischievous twinkle in her eye, make this charming painting, one of the very few such works in existence outside of India, a leading example of Sher-Gil's oeuvre," auctioneers said. Sher-Gil is often referred to as the 'Indian Freida Kahlo' as both artists were of the same generation, both were of part Hungarian heritage and both worked in developing societies where they have been defined by and have defined their respective countries' art histories. Gill was declared a national treasure in 1976 and her art works cannot be taken outside the country.

The upcoming portrait is one of the very few of her canvases that are in private circulation outside India. "Amrita Sher-Gil is an icon - a trailblazer and a heroic figure in Indian history. I have been inspired by her as an artist and as a woman living on her own terms capturing the zeitgeist in Europe and coming back to India to forge a new style of painting," Priyanka Mathew, Head of Sales, Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art said in a statement. Yamini Mehta, International Head of Department, Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art at Sothbey's called it a "once in a generation auction event. It is the ultimate trophy work as there are very few collections both within India and internationally that can boast having even one work by this artist who is so critical to the formation of Modern Indian art," she said. Apart from Sher-Gill, works by Jehangir Sabavala, Krishen Khanna, Ram Kumar, Francis Newton Souza, Maqbool Fida Husain and Jagdish Swaminathan among others are included in the auction.

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