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Item Description:


Pencil on paper


10 1/2 x 9 1/8 in. (26.8 x 23.2 cm.)

Signed 'Amrita Sher Gil' and inscribed 'at the age of 10' lower left


Purchased directly from the artist's family.

Amrita Sher-Gil was born in Budapest in 1913 to a Hungarian mother and a Sikh father. Her childhood was spent in Hungary, and in 1921 the family moved to India where she began her schooling.

'I have drawn and painted, I think, from my tiniest childhood, and I recollect that the presents I most looked forward to as a child were paint-boxes, coloured pencils, drawing paper, and picture books. Rather independent in spirit even at that age, it will be of psychological interest to note that I detested the process of 'colouring in' the drawings of picture books and never allowed 'grown ups' to draw things for me to colour in... I always drew and painted everything myself and resented correction or interference with my work.' (Yashodhara Dalmia, Amrita Sher-Gil: A Life, New Delhi, 2006, p. 15)

Amrita Sher-Gil showed tremendous talent for drawing and painting from a very young age. At the age of five and a half, her mother recalls that the young child was already drawing, showing a keen knack for recreating on paper all the various toys she had. At this time, the family was living in a suburb of Budapest and Amrita spent much of her time in the village or in the forest on the banks of the river Danube, often surrounded by various animals. It is from this very young age that she developed a particular affinity and talent to draw animals, which would also eventually prove to be the subject of her last sketchbook before her untimely death in 1941.

At the age of eight, the family was forced to return to India from Budapest, and they settled in Simla shortly after, where they maintained a home for several decades. Aware of her daughter's burgeoning talent, Amrita's mother ensured the presence of an art teacher through these years. One of the teachers, Hal Bevan Petman, was a former teacher at the Slade School of Art in London, and emphasised to his talented but temperamental student, the importance of drawing as it formed the 'sinews of art', a concept that obviously resonated with her. By now, Amrita was sketching and painting almost constantly. The subject of her works were either European fairy tales that she had read, or her own short stories and poems that she would maintain in a diary with descriptive drawings accompanying them.

The current work could be one from the young Amrita's imagination, but is probably a sketch of a stag she may have seen in the forests surrounding their home. The drawing shows a sophisticated use of line and an intuitive understanding of how to create shadows using the medium to highlight different areas of the animal and its surroundings hills and foliage. The gentle face and realistic rendering of the drawing, combined with technically strong elements, is unusual to see in a hand so young.

NATIONAL ART TREASURE - NON-EXPORTABLE ITEM (Please refer to the Terms and Conditions of Sale at the back of the Catalogue)


The paper tones of the original are slightly darker than the catalogue illustration. The paper appears to have discolored slightly with age. Paper losses at the upper left and lower right corners of the work have been restored and in-filled. These areas of restoration are clearly visible in the catalogue illustration but the tones of the restoration are slightly darker in the original. Further diagonal creases are visible in the upper left and lower right corners which are only partially visible in the catalogue illustration. Fair overall condition.

About The Artist:

AMRITA SHER- GIL (1913-1941)


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