Tuesday, June 21

‘Three Girls’

Oil on canvas by Amrita Shergill (displayed at National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi)
Born in Budapest in 1913 to a Hungarian mother and a Sikh father, Amrita Shergill is considered to be one of India’s foremost artists. In 1921 her family moved to India, where she began her schooling. At the age of sixteen, Amrita went to study painting at Paris in France. The five years she spent there are considered to be a period of experimentation as she took inspiration from European masters. She returned to India in 1934 to immerse herself in painting at her family home in Shimla in undivided Punjab. She travelled extensively discovering her Indian roots and traditions of Indian art. With the above painting that she made a year later in 1935, Amrita is considered to have moved on from the academic, realist style of painting in which she was schooled. Marking her complete transformation she went on to paint in flatter, more modern compositions with richer colours. The passionate empathy for the Indian subjects that she now chose became her signature style. In 1938, she married her cousin, Victor Egan. The couple settled in Lahore, where she died in December 1941. She was only 28 then.