Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 1:22 AM
The Bengal School of paintings was a style of art that flourished in India during the British Raj in the early 20th century. This school has always been respected for being one of the earliest art movements in the country. But now, it is getting its due recognition in the art market as well. Prices of paintings from the old Bengal school have multiplied almost four times from last year. The proverb 'old is gold' stands true for Bengal school of paintings which have suddenly become dearer than gold. And experts say that the upswing in these prices is here to stay, at least for the coming two years.
The art of the Bengal school was the seminal movement in modern Indian painting. It was founded, circa 1907, by Abanindranath Tagore (1871-1951), a nephew of Rabindranath Tagore, in rejection of the artistic styles of the West in favor of the traditions of India, China and Japan. Tagore painted a number of works influenced by Mughal art, as opposed to the materialism of the West. Abanindranath Tagore's best-known painting, “Bharat Mata” (Mother India), depicted a young woman, portrayed with four arms in the manner of Hindu deities, holding objects symbolic of India's national aspirations. Chief among Abanindranath’s followers was Nandalal Bose (1882-1966). The life story of Abanindranath Tagore will remain incomplete if the contribution of Gaganendranath, his elder brother, to the success that has crowned Abanindranath’s efforts remains unmentioned. In the pursuit of his creative work and in the building up of the “Indian Society of Oriental Art” in Calcutta (now Kolkata), Gaganendranath rendered invaluable help. His other brother, Samarendanath, was also, in an indirect way, responsible for the success of Abanindranath’s mission.
The 19th century was seen as a kind of cultural awakening for Bengal. A group of Bengal artists gave birth to a new traditional painting style after copying the painting of Mugal, Rajput and Ajanta etc. and created a Renaissance under the guidance and direction of Avindernath Tagore. The various protest movements, formation of societies and associations, religious reform movements, coming of new styles in Bengali literature, political consciousness, and very interestingly art too. This very movement gave birth to painters like Abanindranath Tagore, who went on to establish what is known as the Bengal School of Art. Contemporary Indian art has travelled a long way since the days of Raja Ravi Varma, Abanindranath Tagore and his followers and even Amrita Sher-Gil. Almost every artist of note began with one kind of representational or figurative art or the other tinged with impressionism, expressionism or post-expressionism.
Britishers could not developed western art of painting in India. It came to an end with Raja Ravi Verma by the end of 19th and the beginning of 20th century. But F.B. Havell brought new style of paintings in India. He was the principal of Madras School of Art in 1884 to 1896 and later transferred to Calcutta. He attempted to reform the teaching methods at the Calcutta School of Art by encouraging students to imitate Mughal miniature paintings. Many people condemned and criticized Mr. Havell but he proved his greatness by not following the dirty politics of Britishers. Being a Britisher, he said that forceful method of introducing western art was wrong because there can be only a little change in the basic style of an art and total change is not possible. In 1907, Mr. Havell and Gajendra Nath Thakur found the Indian society of oriental art whose aim was to encourage traditional paintings and progress artists, there were 30 Britishers and 5 Indians in this organization and the director was Lord Kitchenar.
The orientation in the artistic outlook of Abanindranath created a new awakening in India and brought about a revival of the Indian Art which for centuries lay decadent and hidden from the public view. Bengal school was the primary school for development of Indian art in India. Its influence in India declined with the spread of modernist ideas in the 1920. However Bengal continues to produce some of the best artists of modern India. Among them the best known artists of present day Bengal are Ganesh Pyne, Nirmal Dutta, Nilima Dutta, Jahar Dasgupta, Sudeep Roy, Devajyoti Ray and Paresh Maiti. Sanat Chatterjee is one of the last living pioneers of Bengal School of art. All paintings are courtesy of Art of Legend India.