Amrita Sher-Gil was born in Budapest on 30 January 1913, to a Sikh aristocrat father and a Hungarian mother, who was an opera singer.

  • Amrita Sher-Gil
  • Amrita Sher-Gil
  • Amrita Sher-Gil

Her family moved to Simla in 1921, where Sher-Gil was home-schooled in art by Major Whitmarsh. She later joined classes to study painting under an artist named Beven Pateman. Following encouragement from her Hungarian uncle, Ervin Baktay, Sher-Gil travelled to Europe to continue her education.

In France, she was enrolled at École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts where she studied the academic style of painting, becoming the youngest artist and the only Asian to be awarded a gold medal; she was also elected an associate member of the Grand Salon. Outside of the rigours of an academic schooling, the time spent among the French Bohemians played an important role in developing her artistic personality.

In her struggle to carve a unique artistic identity, Sher-Gil decided to move back to India. She travelled the country, visiting Bombay and further south, including the caves of Ajanta and Ellora, in a bid to explore the rich diversity of Indian culture. She strove to interpret the life of Indians, particularly the poor, through her own visual vocabulary which led her to paint various iconic canvases in her short artistic career.

Despite her untimely death on 5 December 1941, she became the first woman artist to be recognised from India for her extraordinary boldness and felicity as a painter. In 1976, she was declared a National Treasure artist by the Government of India.

Artist Artwork

Self-portrait, 1930

Hungarian Gypsy Girl, 1932

Young Girls, 1932

Sleeping Woman, 1933

Self Portrait as Tahitian, 1934

Group of Three Girls, 1935

Mother India, 1935

Bride's Wash Room, 1937

South Indian Villagers Going to Market, 1937

Brahmacharis, 1937

In the Ladies Enclosure, 1938

Tribal Women, 1938

Camels, 1941

Village Sales

The Story Teller

Dressing The Bride