Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve
NATIONAL ART TREASURE - NON-EXPORTABLE ITEM (Please refer to the Terms and Conditions of Sale at the back of the catalogue)
Pencil and watercolour on paper
8 1/8 x 5 1/4 in. (20.3 x 13.3 cm.)
Signed and inscribed 'Adam and Eve. / Amrita / rajzolta 12 eves / koraban. / Lahore' on reverse
Formerly in the collection of the artist's family.
'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. From the age of nine, when the family returned to India from Budapest, the young girl was sketching and painting almost constantly. Her mother recalls that even at the young age of five and a half, 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 forest on the banks of the river Danube, surrounded by nature. The subject of her early drawings and sketches were often influenced by the countryside, European fairy tales that she had read, or the influence of the Catholic schools she attended briefly.
The current work is a wonderful example from these early years. She has titled the work Adam and Eve, and has inscribed it in Hungarian, stating that she drew this work at the age of 12 ('Adam and Eve. / Amrita / rajzolta /12 eves /koraban'). In early 1924, Amrita and her sister had been taken to Florence by their mother where they attended a Catholic school for a short time; an experience that did not end well, as Amrita was reprimanded on several occasions, including one time when she was almost expelled for drawing a nude figure. As Vivan Sundaram explains, Amrita 'revolted against both the school and her mother and demanded they return to India...' (Vivan Sundaram,Amrita Sher-Gil A Self Portrait in Letters & Writing, New Delhi, 2010, vol. I, p. xxxix) They returned to India by June the same year, and Amrita was once again sent to a Catholic convent in Simla. Her painting and sketching continued without a pause, and it was around this time that she painted several watercolours 'of seemingly "sinful" acts, of nude women in rooms with a prominent display of the Christian cross... (ibid.) For similar examples, see Vivan Sundaram, Amrita Sher-Gil A Self Portrait in Letters & Writing, New Delhi, 2010, vol. I, p. xxxix and p. 26. The current work, with its unmistakable connections to the Church, could well belong to the same group.
The female nude is a consistent feature in Amrita's works between the ages of ten and sixteen, 'and quite apart from what they suggest of her precocious gifts, are revealing for their partiality to images of women... There are pubescent girls (in a forest or in a room) whose libidinal stirrings are not in doubt, windswept mermaids, the lonely damsel... (Deepak Ananth, Amrita Sher-Gil An Indian Artist Family of the Twentieth Century, exhibition catalogue, Haus de Kunst, Munich, 2006, p. 17) revealing a fertile imagination, unusual in a girl so young. Her mature mind was accompanied by a technical prowess and skill that belied her young age, as seen in the sensitive rendering of both the figures and the surrounding landscape.
* Antiquity or Art Treasure - Non-exportable Item. Please refer to the Terms and Conditions of Sale.
The colours of the original are slightly deeper and less saturated than the catalogue illustration. A horizontal crease is visible along the upper edge of the work with two pinholes at the centre upper edge, all visible in the catalogue illustration. A second smaller crease visible in the lower right corner. A small faint crease visible above the green hill on the extreme right. Not examined out of frame. Overall good condition.
About The Artist:
AMRITA SHER- GIL (1913-1941)