Amrita Sher-Gill ॥ Hungarian-Indian Painter ॥ Shimla॥ Himachal Pradesh

By | May 2, 2020

Q. Where/When did Amrita Sher-Gill born?

Ans: Amrita Sher-Gill was born on Sunday, 30 January 1913 at about 11.30 in the morning, in Budapest, Hungary.

Q. About the Parents of Amrita Sher-Gill and their historical background? 


  • Amrita Sher-Gil’s mother Marie Antoinette came from a well to do family.
  • Amrita’s father, Umra Singh Majithia, a Sikh nobleman, belonged to an altogether different milieu.
  • His grandfather, Attar Singh, founder of the Majithia clan (Majitha is a village near Amritsar) had been given some villages, a regular yearly honorarium, and was designated as chief of the area under his control by Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
  • When Umrao Singh’s father, Surat Singh, died, both he and his younger brother, Sunder Singh, were minors.
  • Umrao Singh was married to Captain Gulab Singh’s daughter, when still quite young. But after some time, she died.
  • They had four children- Balram Singh, Satyaram Singh, Prakash (a daughter), and Vivek Singh.
  • Soon after, Umrao Singh went to London. He lived there for some time. But it was on 4th February 1912 that Umrao Singh married Marie Antoinette in Lahore according to Sikh rites.
  • After marriage in Lahore, they set sail for Europe and arrived in Budapest towards the end of the year 1912.
  • It was there that Amrita was born. She was a beautiful baby with black silky hair reaching down to her neck and big eyes which seemed to survey the world with queer astonishment.
  • She was amazingly intelligent from her early years.
  • The Sher-Gill family also spent four years in ‘Dunaharaszti’in the country house, which had an extensive garden attached to it.
  • For Amrita, her sister Indira and their cousin Victor, who spent most of his time with them, had apparently happy years.
  • It was in the picturesque environs of ‘Dunaharaszati‘ that Amrita began to draw. Umrao Singh and Marie had been in Hungry for ten years.

Q. When did Amrita Sher-Gill arrive in India? 

Ans: The Sher-Gill family left Budapest on 2nd January 1921 and spent two weeks in Paris. They arrived in Bombay in 1921.

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 Q. What were the education qualifications of Amrita Sher-Gill? 


  • She had a sound education, which included lessons in music, both in singing and playing the piano.
  • In 1924, Marie, Amrita, and Indira went to Florence, where Amrita joined the school of Santa Annciate’, run by Roman Catholics, and was known for its orthodoxy and rigid discipline.
  • They were away in Italy for over six months and on return to India, Amrita joined Jesus and Mary Convent in Shimla, famous for discipline, as it was also a Roman Catholic institution.
  • It was then she told her father that she was an atheist and did not believe either in God or religion.
  • Later on, she was duly expelled from the school. Thus ended Amrita’s formal schooling.
  • From then till early 1929, Amrita was to spend most of her time either in Shimla in parents house in Summer Hill, or in the Sylvan surroundings of the little village in ‘Saraya‘, in the district of Gorakhpur in U.P.
  • By the time she was twelve, she seems to have already acquired some facility in the use of the English language.

Q. Amrita Sher-Gil’s career as a painter? 


  • In her life, as an artist, 1927 was to be an important year. It was then her uncle Ervin Baklay, who himself was a painter, straightaway recognizes Amrita’s talent and suggested to her that she should draw from live models, practice that she continued to follow throughout her life.
  • He also suggested that Amrita should be taken to Europe for further studies. Most of her work done during the period, she was in Shimla with a brief stay in Florence consists of watercolors land drawings.
  • In the third week of February 1929, the Shergill family left for Paris via Bombay and reached there on 9th April 1929.
  • She was a little over sixteen years of age at that time. In October 1929, she resumed studies.
  • There she also learned music, playing the piano at the ‘Alfred Corpet School‘. Music continued to be her second love. She also got fluency in French.
  • Amrita worked at the ‘Ecote Nationals des Beaux-Arts‘ for about three years and every year that she was there, she won the first prize for portraits and still lives.
  • During her stay in Paris, only one person, that is Marie Louise Chasseny, a colleague and painter, had made a deep and lasting impression on her.

Q. When did Amrita Sher-Gill arrive in India for the second time? 


  • In 1933, she was made an associate of the Grand Salon. But surprisingly is by this time, she had made up her mind to return to India.
  • In 1934, Amrita and her parents left Paris for good and arrived in India. Indira stayed back in Paris.
  • In the first few months, she stayed in her ancestral house in Amritsar while her parents were in Shimla.

Q. What were the achievements of Amrita Sher Gill in the Painting world? 


  • Her painting style in India underwent a revolutionary change in subject, spirit, and technical expression.
  • In 1930, she won two prizes at the fifth annual exhibition of the ‘All India Fine Arts Society’ New Delhi, Rs. 100 as Chief Commissioner’s prize for “the best portrait in any medium” for her self-portrait and ‘Lady N.N. Sircar’s’ Prize of the Gold medal for the same painting.
  • On 20th November 1936, Amrita Sher-Gil’s exhibition was opened along with that of the Ukil brothers, Bombay. The Bombay Art Society held its 46th annual exhibition on 15th January 1937.
  • Her picture, ‘Group of Three Girls‘ won the Society’s gold medal.
  • In December 1936, her exhibition was opened at Allahabad.
  • In 1937, another exhibition was opened at Allahabad.
  • In 1937, she met Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru in Delhi for the first time.
  • On 21st November 1937, her one-man exhibition was opened in Lahore.
  • It was in 1937 that Amrita got the prize for the best work by a ‘lady artist‘ for her Paris paintings “View from studio“, at the All India Fine Arts and Crafts Exhibition, Delhi.
  • She retuned from Lahore in February 1938.
  • In April 1938, she reached Shimla and painted “Hill Scene”.
  • In 1938 summer, Mulk Raj Anand, the well-known writer met her for the first time.
  • In Shimla, she also tried her hand at sculpting the head of a young girl.

Q. Which was the last picture she painted in Shimla in 1937? 

Ans: Amrita was back in Shimla on 27th March 1937, Siesta‘ was the last picture she painted in Shimla that year.

Q. About the married life of Amrita Sher Gill?


  • On 29th June 1938, she left for Hungary with an objective to get married to Victor, her cousin. They got married on 16th July 1938. It was a civil marriage.
  • They left Budapest on 19th June 1939 to settle down in India, reached Shimla in July 1939.
  • But finally, in 1941, they decided to move to Lahore to make their permanent station.
  • There she met Russian painter Svetoslav Roerich also.

Q. What were the famous works of Amrita Sher-Gill? 

Ans: The famous works of Amrita Sher-Gill are as follows:

  • 1931 – Sitting Nude, Black Nude, Torso, Alfred Corot (in pastel), Judith
  • 1932 – Young Girls, Self Portrait, Notre Dame
  • 1933 – Reclining Nude, Professional Model
  • 1934 – View from Studio both in Paris
  • 1935 – Mother India, Man in White, Group of Three Girls, Hill Men, Hill Women
  • 1936 -Chile Wife
  • 1937 – Women on Beach, Fruit Vendors, Girl with Pitcher, Bride’s Toilet, Brahmacharis
  • 1938 –  Siesta, Elephants Bathing in a Green Pool, Red Brick House, Village Group, Red Clay Elephant, Hill Scene
  • 1939 – Mother and Child (sketch 1939),
  • 1940 – Ancient Story Teller, Elephant Promenade, Women on a Charpoy
  • 1941 – Camels

Q. When did Amrita Sher Gill die? 

Ans: Amrita Sher Gill died on 5th December 1941. Her funeral took place on 7th December 1941 according to Sikh rites on the bank of the river Ravi.

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