You’ve simply got to see these most famous Indian paintings ever
We scour the galleries and private collections for the most famous, beautiful and significant Indian works of art ever:
Self-portrait by Amrita Sher-Gil
Amrita Sher-Gil, declared a National Art Treasure, died at the tender age of 28. This is a self-portrait, drawn when she was 19 in 1933, and in it she has been described as ‘a demure coquette with a spark in her eyes and bright red lips that symbolize her burgeoning womanhood’. The oil and canvas sold for Rs 18.2 crore ($2.9 million), at a Sotheby’s New York auction recently, the highest price a work by an Indian woman painter has fetched.
Untitled by V.S Gaitonde
This painting was sold last year for Rs 2.37 crore ($3.8 million), the highest price ever for a work by an Indian artist. But that is not the only reason this work is iconic. Art experts point to its vertical composition built up with variations of warm, golden hues and translucent amber and the peaceful energy it emits.
Mahishasura by Tyeb Mehta
Bulls were a recurring theme in Tyeb Mehta’s work and in this painting, described as being the karmic origami style, he portrayed the Mahishasura embracing Durga, symbolising how the demon is transformed by the divine. This was also the first painting by a contemporary Indian artist to cross the $1 million mark.
Mother and Child: A Tribute to Mother Theresa, the Great Humanist of our Time by M.F. Husain
The painter who breathed life into dancing women and leaping horses on canvas was moved enough by the work of Mother Teresa to dedicate a series to her. His work, a combination of classical Indian styles and cubism, reminiscent of Picasso, is at its pinnacle in this one.
Saurashtra by S.H Raza
This painting set a record when it sold for Rs 16.3 crore ($3.49 million) at Christie’s, London, in 2010. The 1983 painting depicts the beauty of Gujarat’s coast and comes from a key period in Raza’s career. After several years of abstract expressionism, with this one he began to draw upon his childhood and heritage for inspiration.
The Butcher by F N Souza
This is one of Souza’s most prized paintings and reflects his raw, expressionist style. The painting, described as one of his ‘monumental’ works, displays also the artist’s fascination for the grotesque. It shows also some of the Spanish techniques he resorted to.
Durga by Manjit Bawa
Manjit Bawa drew from fable and legend to tell stories through his canvases. This one of Durga astride the tiger is one of his best-known works. It is admired for its clear lines and jewel tones. He also included elements of Kalighat paintings into this particular work.
Shiva Drinking World Poison by Nandlal Bose
This watercolour wash on paper is one of Nandlal Bose’s most-loved works. He uses the Japanese wash technique to tell the legend of Shiva drinking the poison that emerges when the gods churn the ocean for nectar.
Hamsa Damayanthi by Raja Ravi Varma
While, in his time, he had his share of detractors who considered him ‘not Indian enough’, Raja Ravi Varma now ranks among the country’s greatest painters. His work combined Indian tradition and European technique and he was fascinated by the grace and elegance of the female form. In this painting, completed in 1899, the beautiful Damayanthi listens to a swan tell her about the virtues of Nala. It is now housed in the Sri Chitra Art Gallery, Thiruvananthapuram.
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