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Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi

(Nehru, Jawaharlal.) Sternberger, Marcel. Portrait of Indian Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi

New York, 1949, printed 2017.

Gelatin silver print (20 x 30 in.). Archivally framed. Estate Edition, a limited edition of 10 copies, embossed and numbered.

When Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru first met Sternberger and his wife Ilse, it was while temporarily released from prison to visit his ill wife. They met at the “Arya Bhaven (House of the Aryans) a comfortable club for Indian students in London who had established it partly in self-defense against the attitude of many Britishers (sic), who hold against Indians a bias very similar to anti-Negro prejudice in the United States…”

Their sitting took place later under very different circumstances at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York. There Nehru, as India’s senior statesmen, was attending a meeting of the recently formed United Nations. He brought with him his daughter, Indira. The pair was unique in their direct effect on India.

Their conversation stood at times in stark contrast to their opulent surroundings. Nehru said, “Time is relative … the week I have spent in this country seems like many years … they make up for the many periods of my life when nothing happened and months shrank into hours … of course this inactivity was not entirely voluntary on my part.”

He later continued, “jails were a very important part of my life – one does not shed their imprint easily…”

Indira interrupted, “Prisons don’t only inflict suffering on the prisoners – I suffered greatly from insecurity during all my childhood and adolescence … though in the long run I suppose I’ve benefited by it.” Her father responded, “I’m glad you realize it. You have a tendency to overprotect your children from reality.”

Indira was quick to rejoin: “It is only natural that I should want them to have an easier life … I will not have them suffer as I did – unless there should be a need again…”

This portrait showcases Sternberger’s ability in capturing the strength and composure of one of the 20th century’s great leaders.

$2500 unframed; framed: $3,000