A long-lost portrait made by Indian artist Amrita Sher-Gil was recently rediscovered and is now all set to be auctioned. According to a report by CNN, the painting is titled “Portrait of Denyse” and depicts one of Sher-Gil’s friends and art critic Denyse Proutaux.
The oil painting depicts Denyse Proutaux dressed in a red velvet dress in front of vividly colored flowers, and is expected to fetch up to $2.8 million at a rare auction appearance for the painter’s work, reports CNN. It is speculated that the oil painting that was made ninety years ago, was previously unknown to experts as it was kept in a private collection in France.
Besides being one of the least known paintings of Sher-Gil, the portrait is also one of the four known portraits of Proutaux. CNN reports that researchers were able to date this portrait to 1932, when the Budapest-born Sher-Gil was just 19. The researchers used letters exchanged by the French art critic and her husband, as well as her correspondence with Sher-Gil and her sister to find the date.
It was around the same time that Sher-Gil was also creating one of her most coveted paintings, the “Young Girls”. Proutaux features as one of the models in that painting as well. Sher-Gil’s Young Girls went on to bring an early international recognition to the artist and even won a gold medal at the prestigious Paris Salon art show.
The recent auction of Sher-Gil’s oil painting is quite a rare event as the majority of her 172 documented works are displayed at the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi and privately-owned art by the painter continues to change places within India. In 1976, India had made it illegal to take Sher-Gil’s art out of the country without permission from authorities.
Her work made her a pioneer of modern art in India and she was eventually described as the country’s answer to Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. Sher-Gil’s work blended Western influences, like Post-Impressionism, with elements of classical Indian art.