Amrita Sher-Gil's 'The Story Teller' Is Now The most Expensive Indian Painting!

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Credits: Economic Times

A recent auction of a painting pegged the Indian contemporary art at a record-high position. The Story Teller oil on canvas piece by renowned 20th century Sikh-Hungarian artist Amrita Sher-Gil fetched a staggering ₹61.8 crore, making it the most expensive artwork from India to be auctioned. For reference, the costliest art piece so far was modernist painter Sayed Haider Raza's Gestation which was sold at ₹51.75 crore, just 10 days back.


As the only successful woman artist in India, Sher-Gil's painting topping the charts is perhaps the artist's deserving accolade that was long-pending. The SaffronArt auction at The Oberoi in New Delhi, where the painting was sold, generated over ₹181 crore in total.

“The sale of this particular work is an important milestone in the market. However, equally important, is the work itself—it is an exceptional painting as a cornerstone in Sher-Gil’s work as such. She is one of India’s national art treasures, and this type of work is quite rare to come across for sale," an official of the auction house said, as quoted by Mint.

Auctioned for around 84 times, Sher-Gil's oldest art Village Group was sold in 1992 and the latest 'Untitled' was sold in 2023. Village Group is one of the artist's finest works which portrays a group of women.


The Story Teller sets a distinctive artistic language which merges both Pahari and Parisian influences. It portrays a group of women relaxing in an open space while they are indulged in their independent tasks.

 According to experts, Sher-Gil's paintings don't push women subjects to the periphery of the canvas as she can equate her empathetic self to their conditions.

 “The work is among her most honest and expressive figurative compositions, from a pivotal time in her brief oeuvre (body of work), and we are honoured to have played a part in curating a new benchmark for Sher-Gil with this auction,” the official added.

 Born in 1913 to a Sikh father and Hungarian mother, Sher-Gil spent her earlier days in Europe and later moved to India. She is the first Asian artist to win a gold medal in painting at Paris' elite Ecole des Beaux Arts.

Her work on nudes signifies her confidence and ease with her skillset. She used her sister and even herself as models for nudes.

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