S. H. Raza

Sayed Haider Raza (30 March 1922 – 23 July 2016) was an Indian painter who lived and worked in France since 1950, while maintaining strong ties with India. He was born in Kakkaiya (District Mandla), Central Provinces, British India, which is now present-day Madhya Pradesh.

He was a renowned Indian artist. He was awarded the Padma Shri and Fellowship of the Lalit Kala Academi in 1981, Padma Bhushan in 2007, and Padma Vibhushan in 2013. He was conferred with the Commandeur de la Legion d’honneur (Legion of Honour) on 14 July 2015.

His seminal work Saurashtra sold for ₹16.42 crore ($3,486,965) at a Christie’s auction in 2010.

In 1959 he married the French artist Janine Mongillat, who died of cancer in 2002. In 2010 he decided to return to India.

Early life and education

Sayed Haider Raza was born in Kakkaiya, near town Bichhiya, Mandla districtMadhya Pradesh, to Sayed Mohammed Razi, the Deputy Forest Ranger of the district and Tahira Begum. It was here where he spent his early years, completed primary education and took to drawing at the age of 12. He moved to Damoh (also in Madhya Pradesh) at 13; where he completed his high school education from Government High School, Damoh.

After high school, he studied further at the Nagpur School of Art, Nagpur (1939–43), followed by Sir J. J. School of ArtBombay (1943–47), before moving to France in October 1950 to study at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts (ENSB-A), Paris (1950-1953) on a Government of France scholarship. After his studies, he travelled across Europe, and continued to live and exhibit his work in Paris. He was later awarded the Prix de la critique in Paris in 1956, becoming the first non-French artist to receive the honour.

Public contributions

For the promotion of art among Indian youth, he established the Raza Foundation in India which gives the Annual Raza Foundation Award to young artists in India. The Raza Foundation in France, based in the artist village of Gorbio, runs the Estate of Sayed Haider Raza .

Later years and death

In 2010, a few years after the death of his wife, S.H. Raza decided to move back from France to New Delhi, where he continued to work several hours a day up until his death on July 23, 2016, at the age of 94, in New Delhi. His last wish being laid to rest in his hometown Mandla beside his father’s grave was fulfilled. In Mandla city’s kabristaan he was laid to rest.