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Kalighat Painting: A Historical Art Style of India

Kalighat Painting: A Historical Art Style of India



Kalighat Painting of Kolkata is one of the most iconic Indian art styles. Many regard Kolkata as the cultural capital of India. The state has been the birthplace of many of India’s movements in art, literature and theatre. Kalighat Painting is one such style that the city can proudly bask in the glory of.


1. Kalighat Painting originated in the 19th century in West Bengal. It arose from the vicinity of Kalighat Temple of Kolkata, with which it shares its name.


2. The art style was developed as a souvenir for offerings to Kali, the Hindu Goddess of Destruction but soon became a distinct school of art.


3. Originally, this painting style depicted Hindu deities and other mythological figures. Nonetheless, it soon became an art style that portrayed the everyday life of people.


4. In the 19th century, the art style flourished as a traditional scroll painting art. At that time, the paintings were usually made on cloth or data.


5. The art style was characterized by its use of bold dyes and masterful, flowing brushwork. The colours used were often homemade.


6. Epics like the Ramayana were the prime inspiration for Kalighat artists back in the day. The artists were usually villagers who travelled from place to place with their paintings and performed during the festivals.


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7. The British were patrons of the art style. They sought souvenirs to take back home from India, an exotic country.


8. Kalighat Painting style can be divided into two separate schools of arts: the “Oriental School” (depicted the sacred deities) and the “Occidental School” (sketched the everyday life of people).


9. Kalighat Paintings were also used to express support for the Indian independence movements. Many illustrations of leaders like Tipu Sultan and Rani Laxmibai emerged during the time.


Many claims say that this traditional art style of India has died out. However, that is not true. The art style continues to inspire artists even today. Jamini Roy, the late Indian artist, is one of the most famous painters of the Kalighat style. Kalighat Paintings can be found in museums across the globe. Naprstek Museum in Prague is a good example.

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