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Friday 13 September 2013

Famous Indian Painters and Paintings of 18th Century to Early 19th Century : From Realistic To Abstract Painting

Famous Indian Painters and Paintings of 18th Century to Early 19th Century:

Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906):

Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906):

was an Indian artist from the princely state of Travancore (presently in Kerala) who achieved recognition for his depiction of scenes from the epics of the Mahabharata and Ramayana. His paintings are considered to be among the best examples of the fusion of Indian traditions with the techniques of European academic art.Varma is most remembered for his paintings of sari-clad women portrayed as shapely and graceful. Varma's paintings became an important motif of the time, reproductions being found in almost every middle-class home. His exposure in the west came when he won the first prize in the Vienna Art Exhibition in 1873. Raja Ravi Varma died in 1906 at the age of 58. He is considered among the greatest painters in the history of Indian art. 

Raja Ravi Varma was born as Ravi Varma Koil Thampuran of Kilimanoor palace, in the erstwhile princely state of Travancore (Thiruvithankur) in Kerala. His father Ezhumavail Neelakanthan Bhattatiripad was an accomplished scholar, and his mother Umayamba Thampuratti (died 1886) was a poet and writer whose work Parvati Swayamvaram was published by Raja Ravi Varma after her death

Raja Ravi Varma received widespread acclaim after he won an award for an exhibition of his paintings at Vienna in 1873. Raja Ravi Varma's paintings were also sent to the World's Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1893 and he was awarded two gold medals. He travelled throughout India in search of subjects. He often modelled Hindu Goddesses on South Indian women, whom he considered beautiful. Ravi Varma is particularly noted for his paintings depicting episodes from the story of Dushyanta and Shakuntala, and Nala and Damayanti, from the Mahabharata. Ravi Varma's representation of mythological characters has become a part of the Indian imagination of the epics. He is often criticized for being too showy and sentimental in his style. However his work remains very popular in India. His many fabulous paintings are available at Laxmi Vilas Palace of Vadodara.

Ravi-varma_Maharsatrian lady

Abanindranath Tagore (1871-1951):

Abanindranath Tagore (1871-1951):

Abanindranath was born in Jorasanko, Calcutta on 7 August 1871. His father Gunendranath was the son of Girindranath, the second son of Dwarkanath Tagore. Abanindranath's first formal training in pastel, watercolour and lifestudy was under the supervision of his private tutor, Signor Gilhardi. He attended the studio of Charles Palmer, an English painter, for instructions in oil paintings and portraiture. In 1895 he painted the Krishna-Lila series, which display a unique blend of both European and Indian, styles. E.B.Havell, Principal, Calcutta School of Art, on seeing these paintings was impressed and offered Abanindranath the post of Vice-principal of the School. UnderHavell' s guidance he studied Mughal and Rajput styles of painting thoroughly. 

In the early years of the century Abanindranath met Okakura. Okakura taught composition to Abanindranath by means of simple shapes such as matchsticks, emphasising the need for organic unity in art. In 1903 Okakura returned to Japan and sent his pupils Yokoyama Taikan and Hishida Shunso to Calcutta where they interacted with Abanindranath. Taikan taught Abanindranath how to wield the brush with a light touch and of the evocative powers of gestures. He was able to incorporate this learning into his Omar Khaiyam series (1906-08). 

His writings for children are in a class by themselves, the stories are told so picturesquely that it was said, Aban Thakur writes pictures. His Kshirer Putul, Buro Angla, Raj Kahini, Sakuntala are classics which will always stimulate the imagination of the children of Bengal and be part of their childhood. His reminiscences form another genre where in Apankatha, Gharoa, Pathe Vipathe and Jorasankor Dhare he has enlivened and immortalised his childhood, his Jorasanko days and the contemporary scene.







Nandalal Bose ( 1862-1966):

Nandalal Bose ( 1862-1966):

was an Indian painter of the Bengal school of art. A pupil of Abanindranath Tagore, Bose was known for his "Indian style" of painting. He became the principal of Kala Bhavan, Shanti Niketan in 1922. He was influenced by the Tagore family and the murals of Ajanta; his classic works include paintings of scenes from Indian mythologies, women, and village life.Today, many critics consider his paintings among India's most important modern paintings In 1976, the Archaeological Survey of India, Department of Culture, Govt. of India declared his works among the "nine artists" whose work, "not being antiquities", were to be henceforth considered "to be art treasures, having regard to their artistic and aesthetic value".

Born in Bihar on December 1882, Nandlal Bose rose to become one of modern India's most important artists. A product of GCAC, Bose was mentored by Havell and Abanindranath. His integrity and intent idealism were reflected as well as widened with his nationalistic consciousness, his commitment for classical and folk art, along with its underlying spirituality and symbolism, and a responsibility towards shaping the self-consciousness, choices and moral virtues of the people. The early philosophical inspirations came from Havell, Coomaraswamy and Sister Nivedita, while his interactions with the Japanese painters in Calcutta influenced him to realize the significance of the artistic heritage.



Sati (1943) by Nandalal Bose.

Birth_of_Krishna_ Nandalal_Bose

Jamini Roy ( 1887-1972):

Jamini Roy ( 1887-1972):

Shri Jamini Roy was an Indian painter.He was honored with the State award of Padma Bhushan in 1955.He was one of the most famous pupil of Abanindranath Tagore, whose contribution to the emergence of modern art in India remains unquestionable.

In the 1920s, many experiments in art practices took place in Calcutta and Santiniketan. Amidst this activity, the story of Jamini Roy, who turned to the folk arts of Bengal, is remarkable. Although trained at the Government School of Art, Calcutta, Roy’s artistic impulses were rooted in his growing years in Beliatore village in the Birbhum district of undivided Bengal at that time. Roy adopted the simplification of the forms, the bold, flat colours and the medium, material and themes of local folk paintings. He discarded expensive canvas and oil paint and opted for the more inexpensive material and medium of the folk artist. He rendered images from Ramayana and Krishna Lila. He painted ordinary men and women from the village, reinventing popular images from the patua’s repertoire. Jamini Roy restricted his palette to seven colours- Indian red, yellow ochre, cadmium green, vermillion, grey, blue and white. These were mostly earthy or mineral colours. 

Lord Jesus Christ_Jamini Roy


Ganesh Janani Durga_Jamini_Roy

Sita_AgniPariksha_Jamini Roy





Hemendranath Mazumdar (1894-1948):

Hemendranath Mazumdar (1894-1948):

Hemendranath Majumdar was born in 1894 in a village named Gachihata under Kishoreganj district. This area is now in Bangladesh. He studied in Government School of Art in Kolkata for sometime, he turned disgruntled with the program of the British Principal for Indianizing art. In 1911 when the King of England visited India and the principal asked the students of the School of Art to design, construct and embellish a congratulatory gate as a dedicated welcome to the monarch, things turn unbearable. Inspired from this incidence, he along with other artists joined Jubilee Art Academy (1911-1915). He was instigated to follow his own instincts and not adhering to a specific group or movement.  Hemendranath Mazumdar artist of European academic style in 1920s in Kolkata. The artist had close association with Abanindranath Tagore but Hemendranath was never won over by the principles of the Neo-Bengal School which was founded by the Tagores.

Hemendranath gained popularity by painting in western style. Women of his indigenous (former) Bengal, mostly bathing or draped in wet saris are referred to be Mazumdar's classical trademark. Some important oil paintings of Hemendranath have subjects like Machh Dhara (Fishing) and Fasal Kata (Reaping of Crops) are remarkable. He put in all his efforts and diligence to transform the colossal oil paintings from little water color artworks. He was wonderfully appreciated for his great treatment of watercolors, pastels, and chalks; his original expertise is in the approach of handling the oil medium.


After the Bath by Hemendranath Mazumder

Lonely Lady _Hemendranath

Study of Miss Shelly Gupta by Hemendranath Mazumder 1939


Amrita Sher-Gil (1913-1941):

Amrita Sher-Gil (1913-1941)

was an eminent Indian painter born to a Punjabi Sikh father and a Hungarian mother, sometimes known as India's Frida Kahlo and today considered an important woman painter of 20th century India, whose legacy stands at par with that of the Masters of Bengal Renaissance; she is also the 'most expensive' woman painter of India.In 1929, she joined the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. Her painting skills were recognized and acclaimed; she loved the bohemian life of artists in Paris. Sher-Gil’s painting style at this time reflected the European idiom with its naturalism and textured application of paint. Many of the paintings done in the early 1930s are in the European style, and include a number of self portraits. There are also many paintings of life in Paris, nude studies, still life studied, as well as portraits of friends and fellow students. Of these, the self portraits form a significant corpus. They captured the artist in her many moods- somber, pensive and joyous- while revealing a narcissistic streak in her personality. 

Amrita Sher-Gil was born in Budapest, Hungaryto Umrao Singh Sher-Gil Majithia, a Sikh aristocrat and a scholar in Sanskrit and Persian, and Marie Antoniette Gottesmann, a Jewish opera singer from Hungary. Her mother came to India as a companion of Princess Bamba Sutherland. Sher-Gil was the elder of two daughters born. Her younger sister was Indira Sundaram (née Sher-Gil), mother of the contemporary artist Vivan Sundaram. She spent most of early childhood in Budapest. She was the niece of Indologist Ervin Baktay. He guided her by critiquing her work and gave her an academic foundation to grow on. He also instructed her to use servants as models. The memories of these models would eventually lead to her return to India



Ram Kinker Baij (1906-1980):

Ram Kinker Baij (1906-1980):

was an Indian sculptor and painter, one of the pioneers of modern Indian sculpture. Ramkinkar Baij was born on the 25th May 1906 in Bankura in West Bengal, into a family of little economic and social standing, and grew, by the sheer dint of talent and determination, into one of the most distinguished early modernists in Indian art. As a young boy he grew up watching local craftsmen and image-makers at work; and making small clay figurines and paintings with whatever came his way. His talent, prodigious for his age, attracted the attention of local people, especially of the nationalists with whom he was associated. This led him in 1925, on the advice of Ramananda Chatterjee the nationalist publisher and apologist for the new Indian art movement, to mark his way to Kala Bhavana, the art school at Santiniketan. At Santiniketan, under the guidance of Nandalal Bose and encouraged by its liberating intellectual environment, shaped by Rabindranath Tagore, his artistic skills and intellectual horizons acquired new depth and complexity. Soon after completing his studies at Kala Bhavana he became a member of its faculty, and along with Nandalal and Benodebehari Mujhrejee played a decisive role in making Santiniketan the most important centre for modern art in pre-Independent India. Santiniketan was conceived as a locus for artistic experimentation and resurgence rather than as a mere centre for imparting training and knowledge. This allowed talented individuals to add social dimension and give public expression to their personal vision. Ramkinkar used this opportunity to make monumental public sculpture, undertaken entirely at his own initiative. Beginning in early thirties he began to fill the campus with sculptures, one after the other, which were innovative in subject matter and personal in style. His first magnum opus in this genre was the Santal Family done in 1938. In this larger than life sculpture he represented the tribal peasants of the region, giving the figures iconic presence and dignified grace that was so far limited to the images of Gods and Rulers. In a country were all public art-work was undertaken only at the behest of Government commissioning and executed in consonance with the taste of conservative ruling elites, this was a radical departure. The use of cement and laterite mortar to model the figures, and the use of a personal style in which modern western and Indian pre-classical sculptural values were brought together was equally radical. With this seminal work Ramkinkar established himself as undoubted modern Indian sculptor.


Girl with a Dog_Ramkinkor.

Hindu Widow_Ramkinnkor

Painting of Ram Kinker Baij




  1. These aren't eighteenth (1700) to nineteenth century (1800), they are in fact nineteenth (1800) to twentieth (1900). Interesting compilation nevertheless.

  2. Very nice art work

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