Soon after her return to India, after completing her art studies in Paris in 1934, Amrita Sher-Gil set about capturing the poor Indian villagers in her paintings from 1935 onwards. The faces of her subject at this time have their faces and stances steeped in melancholy and are marked by large, sad eyes. Mr. R.C. Tandon, from whom this painting had been purchased was a professor at the Allahabad University and had organized an exhibition of Amrita Sher-Gil's paintings in 1937 at the University campus.


  • Title: Mother India
  • Creator: Amrita Sher-Gil
  • Date Created: 1935
  • Location: Shimla
  • Physical Dimensions: w65 x h81.8 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Exhibition History : 1) Displayed in the exhibition 'Amrita Shergil: The Passionate Quest' at the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi. 2) Amrita Sher-Gil Birth Centenary Celebrations organized at UNESCO, Paris, by the National Gallery of Modern Art. 3) An exhibition titled Amrita Shergil - An Artist family in the 20th Century was organized at Munich, Germany from 3.10.2006 to 10.01.2007. 4) An exhibition titled Amrita Sher-gil organized at Tate Modern, London from 18.02.2007 to 22.04.2007.
  • Additional Information: Amrita Sher-Gil flashed through the Indian artistic horizon like an incandescent meteor. Her place in the trajectory of Indian modern art is unquestionably pre eminent. Her aesthetic sensibility shows not surprisingly a blend of European and Indian elements. Her command over handling of oil medium and use of colour, as well as her vigorous brushwork and strong feeling for composition, all go towards giving a dazzling quality to her genius. Sher-Gil's sikh father, Umrao Singh Sher-Gil was an aristocratic estate owner with a passion for photography and her mother Marie Antoinette was a Hungarian. Sher- Gil's art education was completed in Paris where she was influenced by the artists like Gauguin. While her childhood years were spent travelling between India and Europe, she returned to India in the mid 30s to make India her home. Sher-Gil looked at the Indian art traditions with a fresh eye and she gazed at the sad-eyed people around her with empathy. She became excited by the Indian miniature traditions and as a consequence of her travels to the caves of Ajanta and Ellora and South India, her visual language underwent a dramatic transformation. Her palette became saturated with intense reds, ochres, browns, yellows and greens, and her figuration expressed a new visual reality. But she interspersed these paintings of her land with paintings that she practiced in Paris. Sher-Gil was passionate about life and yet she harboured within her a deep sense of melancholy that found expression in the pensive faces of her subjects and their languorous poses. Sher-Gil's visual language introduced a host of new elements in modern Indian art as the expressive representation of the female figure and her ingeniously narrating elements of miniature paintings in her work. We also see intimate portrayals of domestic scenes. NGMA has a large collection of 107 of her paintings covering an extensive range of important works both from her Paris days and from her Indian stay.

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