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Amrita Sher-Gil’s ‘The Story Teller’ Breaks Records as the Most Expensive Indian Artwork Ever Auctioned

The Story Teller Sets New Records

In a remarkable moment for Indian contemporary art, Amrita Sher-Gil’s masterpiece, “The Story Teller,” dated 1937, achieved an unprecedented sale of ₹61.8 crore at an auction held at The Oberoi, New Delhi. This historic sale has earned the painting the prestigious title of the most expensive Indian artwork ever to be auctioned. The event, organised by Saffronart, showcased around 70 works by renowned artists such as MF Husain, VS Gaitonde, Jamini Roy, and FN Souza as part of their ‘Evening Sale: Modern Art.’

A Glimpse Into the Story Behind ‘The Story Teller’

Amrita Sher-Gil’s “The Story Teller” is a captivating piece of art that seamlessly blends influences from both the Pahari and Parisian art scenes. The painting portrays a group of women engrossed in various independent activities within an expansive open space, inviting viewers into a world of storytelling through visual art. Its significance lies not only in its record-breaking sale but also in the rich history it embodies.

A Milestone for Indian Art

The auction, which culminated in total sales exceeding ₹181 crore, bears witness to the growing prominence of Indian contemporary art on the global stage. Amrita Sher-Gil, India’s sole successful female artist, deservedly claimed the top spot, marking a long-awaited pinnacle in her illustrious career.

Minal Vazirani, co-founder of the auction house, aptly noted, “The sale of this particular work is an important milestone in the market. However, equally important is the work itself—it is an exceptional painting as a cornerstone in Sher-Gil’s oeuvre. She is one of India’s national art treasures, and this type of work is quite rare to come across for sale.”

Amrita Sher-Gil: A Glimpse into Her Life and Legacy

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“It seems to me that I never began painting, that I have always painted. And I have always had, with a strange certitude, the conviction that I was meant to be a painter and nothing else.” 

Amrita Sher-Gil

Born on January 30, 1913, in Budapest, Hungary, to an Indian father and a Hungarian mother, Amrita Sher-Gil remains celebrated as one of the foremost avant-garde women painters in the world. Her contributions to the world of art are nothing short of extraordinary.

Her body of work includes other notable female portraits such as “Three Girls,” “Women on the Charpoy,” “Hill Women,” and “Young Girls.” These pieces reflect her unique ability to capture the essence of women’s lives and their stories, making her an icon of women’s empowerment and artistic expression.

Amrita Sher-Gil’s legacy endures through her masterpieces, and “The Story Teller” is an outstanding example of her unparalleled talent and the enduring power of her art. This record-breaking sale is not just a financial milestone but a testament to the lasting impact of her work on the world of art and culture.

Cherishing the Heritage of Indian Art

Khobar Ghar painting by Madhubani artist Dulari Devi

Indian art holds a unique place in the country’s cultural heritage. Just as Amrita Sher-Gil celebrated women and their stories through her art, many folk artists in India have been doing the same for centuries. These women artists, often hailing from rural communities, bring to life the essence of India’s diverse cultures through their distinctive art forms. They bring to life the oft-forgotten lives of women and the sometimes invisible but integral role they play in the functioning of society.

From Warli and Madhubani to Pattachitra and Gond art, each of these folk art styles carries the traditions and narratives of their respective regions. They celebrate daily life, rituals, and the stories that have been passed down through generations. In a rapidly changing world, the preservation and promotion of these art forms are crucial for safeguarding India’s rich cultural heritage.


The sale of “The Story Teller” has not only set a new benchmark in the Indian art market but has also shone a spotlight on the remarkable career of Amrita Sher-Gil. Her ability to fuse diverse influences into her art and convey profound narratives through her paintings continues to captivate audiences worldwide, cementing her position as an icon in the world of art. This auction is a testament to the enduring allure of her work and its rightful place in India’s artistic heritage.

As we celebrate Amrita Sher-Gil’s historic achievement, let’s also recognise the countless women folk artists across India who have played a significant role in preserving and enriching the nation’s cultural legacy through their unique and captivating art forms. In cherishing these artists and their narratives, we honour the cultural diversity and heritage that make India truly remarkable.

Do you want to learn more about women folk artists and how they capture feminist narratives? Download the Rooftop App from Google Play or the App Store and read our Art Wikis and blogs for more information.

By Melissa D’Mello

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