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Bengal School Of Art: Revolution That Simultaneously Contributed To Art And Indian Freedom

Bengal School Of Art: Revolution That Simultaneously Contributed To Art And Indian Freedom


Originating during the British Raj, the Bengal School of Art acted as a rebel against the influence of Britishers on Indian art. This movement motivated the local artists to create traditional Indian artworks instead of catering to the taste of Britishers. Read on to know more about this crucial aspect of Indian art.

1. The Bengal School of Art is a style of Indian painting that started as an art movement in Bengal during the British Raj. The campaign had its roots in Kolkata and Shantiniketan, where it originated in the early 20th century.


via youtube

2. It began as a moment to promote Indian nationalism, led by Abanindranath Tagore. Bengal School of Art also garnered support from British Arts administrators. The principal of Kolkata’s Government College of Arts from 1896, E.B. Havell, was one of the core supporters of the Bengal School of Art.

3. The Britishers introduced a new form of painting, called ‘Company Paintings,’ in late 1700s India because the traditional Indian Paintings didn’t align with their interests. Primarily made with watercolours, the themes of company paintings used to be Indian festivals, flora & fauna, ancient monuments, etc.

Company Painting

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4. Ernest Binfield Havell was the first person who objected to the British’s academic style of painting. He believed that Mughal miniatures reflected India’s spiritual qualities and therefore motivated his students to imitate them.

5. Gesture of Havell became controversial and received backlash from the students and nationalists who termed it retrogressive. Rabindranath Tagore’s nephew, Abanindranath Tagore, supported Havell and painted multiple artworks influenced by Mughal art.

6. The artists of Bengal School generally painted romantic landscapes, historical themes, and the daily rural life of India.

Painting by Artist from Bengal School Of Art

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7. Abanindranath Tagore wanted Indian artworks to be independent of western influence. He went to China and Japan to establish a pan-Asian aesthetic. He brought the Japanese wash technique to India after getting inspired by Okakura Kakuzo, a Japanese artist.

8. Apart from Abanindranath, there were many other loyal supporters of the Bengal School of Art. His brother Gaganendranath Tagore, disciple Nandalal Bose, and Asit Kumar Haldar were prominent figures who contributed to the Bengal School of Art with their ideas and artworks.

Popular Figures supporting Bengal School Of Art

via eikowa

9. Although the influence of the Bengal School of Art declined due to the modernist ideas in the 1920s, the movement revolutionized Indian art. It contributed a lot to preserve the authentic Indian identity of the artworks.

Undoubtedly, Bengal is still producing some of the finest artists of modern India. The students of the Government College of Art & Craft, trained in the traditional styles of tempera and wash painting, are carrying on the legacy of the Bengal School artists after all these years.

Blog Edited By Ritika Gupta

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