One of the most talented painters ever to have graced the Indian soil, Amrita Shergil was an artist beyond compare. Though she lived for just 28 short years, she left an indelible mark on the history of contemporary Indian art. She is often referred to as India’s Frida Kahlo, but the comparison doesn’t seem to do her justice—she was a wonderful artist in her own right, not someone who needed to be compared to another person for greatness. Born to an Indian Punjabi father, Amrita was by no means a typical Indian woman. Her mother was a Hungarian and Amrita was born in Budapest. She began painting by herself as a five year old and her parents arranged for her to have lessons later on after seeing her talents. When she grew up into a gifted teenager her mother took her to Europe to expose her daughter to various genres of paintings. However, it was only after coming back to India did Amrita realize her full potential. Her paintings were the perfect blend of Western and Indian techniques which gave them an exotic appeal combined with earthiness.
She was born in Budapest, Hungary to Umrao Singh Shergil, a Sikh aristocrat and his Jewish Hungarian wife, Marie Antoniette Gottesmann. She had one younger sister, Indira.
Her family moved to Shimla, India in 1921 where the sisters began learning piano and violin. The talented girls even gave concerts. Amrita displayed an interest in painting from a young age and formally started learning when she was eight.
Amrita’s mother recognized her talents and took her to Italy in 1924 where she got her enrolled at Santa Annunziata, an art school. Here she got exposed to works of Italian art.