Bengal School

ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT

The credit of beginning the new style of school of painting i.e. the Bengal school goes to Mr. E.V.Hevell and Raja Ravi Verma. Mr.E.V.Hevell was the principal of madras school of arts deputed by British government from 1884 to 1886and then he was transferred at Calcutta.

After the establishment of east India company and first war of independence in 1857 a series of political changes ruptured our every walk of life including art and culture. The impact of west swept away everything in the field of traditional Indian art .to teach western art three art schools Bombay, Calcutta and Madras where either student was compelled to copy European art or to make painting as the mixture of Mughal and western art. The first encouragement for revival of Indian art was led by famous European artist Mr.E.V.Hevell, principal of Madras and later on art school of Calcutta. He appreciated Indian art for its own values. Mr. Havell attract the attention of the world towards the Indian great artistic traditions by his three books namely “Indian sculpture and paintings” “Indian architecture” and the “Ideal of Indian art”. He motivated and inspired Abanindra Nath to study the technique used in Mughal, Rajput Pahari and Ajanta painting to create a new style. After that Abnindra Nath painted a series of Radha Krishna paintings. He also synthesized traditional Indian art, western art Chinese and Japanese art which finally became the style of Bengal school and are known as wash painting.

E.V. Hevell and Anand Kumar swami enhanced the fame of Abnindra Nath by exhibition his paintings. After the foundation of archaeological survey of India in 1902 the beauty of Indian art spread all over the world. His main students Nand Lal Bose, A.K.Haldar, K. Venkatappa, Suren Ganguli, D.P.R. Chaudhary etc. . who exhibited their paintings on international stage and enhanced the reputation of Indian art which was being ruptured by the British.

Main feature

Based on Indian tradition – The Bengal school of fully based on the Indian traditional style as the subject matter of this school is based on Indian culture. The paintings based on Indian themes like Mahakali, Shiva Parvati, Krishna and Gopis etc. proved the Bengal school’s Indian mentality.

Influence Ajanta Paintings – Bengal school is influenced from Ajanta art. The qualities of Ajanta art like rhythm, grace, harmony etc. are visible in Bengal school. The lines of Bengal school resemble the Ajanta paintings.

Softness and rhythm in figure – The figure of Bengal school gives soft effect and no hardness is there. they are graceful and have delicacy. They are rhythmic and provide pleasant experience to eyes.

Beautiful colour scheme – The colours of Bengal school are very attractive. Wash technique is used and colour are not bright and gaudy at all.

Influence of Mughal and Rajasthani school – Mughal and Rajasthani school’s influence can be seen at some places.

Light and shade – The softness in the paintings of Bengal school is due to its quality of brilliant light and shade.

Impressive and Indian subject matter – The subject matter of Bengal school is very impressive an Indian character. Themes used are historical, religious and literary.

Description of Painting

Tiller of the soil

SUBJECT MATTER – This is one of the panels painted by Nandalal Bose to decorate one of the several huts in the pandal for the “Haripur Congress Adhiveshan”. For themes he selected the life of common people of Bengal and their working condition during the British rule.

Description – The tiller of the soil is one of the 83 Haripura posters made by Nandlal Bose in 1937.Thr themes of these decorative posters were related to the religious episodes of Indian culture scenes of daily life musician, athlete, cobbler, farmer, village, crafts, nymphs, animals and other decorative motifs. He applied the techniques borrowed from KALIGHAT PAT PAINTING and rich folk art and craft traditions of India. In this poster tiller of soil, a farmer is shown indulged in ploughing his field he is half naked and shown wearing a folded dhoti and turban on his head. He is also holding a stick in his right hand. His oxen are well decorated with clothes and ornaments. Here plough field is shown by just three curvilinear lines skilfully. The lines used in this work are very forceful and effective. The drawing of his oxen, dress of farmer, and his body all bear a lyrical harmonious rhythm. The whole composition has been made very fast with tempera colours on paper then pasted on a hard board. these posters are very economically and represent Indian life and culture. Now it is a collection of National Gallery of Modern Art New Delhi.

Human Values –

@ Dignity of labour

@ Respect for farmer as a provider of food

@ Respect for mother earth and sustainability

Description in 30 words – This remarkable painting made by Nand Lal Bose of Haripura panels. It shows tilling the land with a wooden plough driven by a pair of white bullocks. The entire force of farmers action is concentrated on managing his plough.

Raslila

SUBJECT MATTER– This is the painting of Kshitindra Nath Majumdar showing Raslila of Krishna with Gopi’s. thus painting is based on the dance of Gopi’s in the love of Krishna. Raslila means the dance of Krishna with Gopi’s. The subject matter is justified.

Description – The painting Ras Leela has been painted is a vertical asymmetric figurative and well-integrated wash painting by KHSITINDRA NATH MAJUMDAR in 1926 the size of the painting 14.3X9.4 cm. on the basis of aesthetical parameters, this painting has all the reasons for which we can accept that its painter been successful in depicting the subject matter. In the painting Krishna is shown dancing along with eleven Gopi’s under the vibrant trees in moon light. Here we find that the main theme is painted frontally against a simple background. The background is full of rugged tree trunks laden with softly repeated drooping leaves patterns. Krishna and Gopi’s are shown in special type of soft, gentle, poetic and rhythmic body gestures. They have very delicate look. They are tall having oval shaped head and flower like hands. The posture of Krishna is tall attenuated and looks effeminate. His hair is piled. There is halo around his head to mark his divine virtues. He is decorating with various types of ornaments. Krishna is half naked and dressed in dhoti. Gopi’s are painted in lehenga and dupatta. The hair style of Gopi’s is either piled or having charming plait. Their cascading soft draperies mark the dancing rhythm. Their face expression is full of divine pleasure. Here the act of dancing and singing is painted nicely and artistically. The theme of Raslila is taken from Bhagavat Purana in which Krishna and Gopi’s dance called Maharas and symbolically indicates the dance of God and soul. Really, it’s a very beautiful and attractive wash miniature. Now it is a collection of National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi.  

Human Values –

@ Love and commitment

@ Love, devotion and faith in the divine

@ Self forgetfulness to be one with the supreme

@ Enjoyment in ultimate spirituality

Description in 30 words – This is a vertical asymmetric figurative and well-integrated wash painting shown dancing along with eleven gopies under a vibrant tree in moon light. their face expression is full of divine pleasure.

Meghdoot

SUBJECT MATTER– This painting is based on the lyrical poem ‘Meghdoot’ written by Kalidas. Meghdoot is a story of “Yaksha”. who lives in beautiful mythical city of Alka in the Himalayas? he was exiled by his master “Kuber” for one year for neglecting his duties. the poem is set about the eight months after the exile when the “Yaksha” yearning for his beloved convinces a passing cloud to become the messenger and carry his message to his beloved wife awaiting his return.

Description – The painting Meghdoot painted by the Artist Ramgopal Vijayvargiya during 1961-66A.D.was done in water colour, tempera medium in water colour ‘wash technique’. Meghdoot in three separate series-based om famous Sanskrit classic ABHIYAN SHAKUNTALAM written by Kali das. each series consists of 60 to 70 paintings.in this painting the could messenger Meghdoot is shown taking yaksha’s massage to his concert during rainy season. this painting has obvious effect of Bengal school style mixed with typical Ajanta characteristics. The drawing reflects calligraphic freedom and maintains the essence of form. the yksha’s is shown sitting in knee down posture having profile face, softly smiling face fluttering hair and doe like eyes. He has some wild flowers in his long and thin left hand. He has tapering artistic fingers and long legs. He is shown indulged in writing a love letter in the midst of vibrant forest site in the lap of nature. The nature is shown in a happy and blissful mood. He is shown wearing traditional dhoti and having a long veil on his left shoulder. There is a flower garland around his neck and a traditional closed thread called ‘janeu’ on his right shoulder. The cloud full of rain water are shown floating very closed to yaksha as if they were eager and exited to take massage from yksha and send to his consort. Here clouds are depicting in a very special manner which looks natural and attractive. The birds are shown flying higher than clouds. Now, it is a collection of National Art Gallery of Modern Art New Delhi.    

Human Values –

@ love, commitment and faithfulness.

Description in 30 words – This painting is made by Ram Gopal Vijay Vargiya  of Bengal school taken from “Abhigyan Shakuntalam” in this painting the cloud are massager’s named Meghdoot  is shown talking yaksha’s massage to his consort during rainy session .

Journey’s End

SUBJECT MATTER– This painting shows a tired and overloaded camel on the edge of death.in fact the artist is showing reflection of human life through this piece of art work.

Description – The painting journey’s end done by Abnindra Nath Tagore is a very meaningful painting. A loaded camel is about to fall and die on a stony ground. He is very exhausted after a long journey. It seems that the camel has worked more than his capacity. The effect of sunset been shown in the painting through red, brown and yellowish orange colour. A desert has been depicting gracefully. The whole composition is well balanced, rhythmic and harmonized but there is some point which compel us the criticize the compositional arrangements of this painting based on the aesthetical parameters as it is a symbolic painting and there is no presence of any compositional elements such as a hut or sand mountains (being a desert) etc. on the whole this composition provides a mystical effect i.e. some kind of clarity is required.

Human Values –

@ Do not be inhuman and cowardliness animal

@ loyalty to the master

@ Teaches the need that the master should be caring and responsible for his dependent’s well being

Description – This is a symbolic wash/ tempera painting by Avnindra Nath Tagore. He depicts an overloaded camel about to end of his life after a tiring long journey. The expression and posture of camel looks real and lively.

Radhika

SUBJECT MATTER – This painting is based on the typical Indian young girl in standing pose going out of her room. She if feeling shy. this painting belongs to Hindu religion.

Description – Radhika Is one of the best wash painting of M.A.R.Chughtai . In this painting, a very delicate Indian Lady is shown coming out of her room. Her face is profile, head is down and eyes are in graceful look with sharp eyebrows. Her left foot is in forward motion. She is holding lotus flowre in her both hands. Her left hand is shown near face whilke right hand is hanging down in a typical posture. A honeybee is shown sitting on the flower.She is wearing light purple duptta ,red blouse and yellow odhani. Her hair is painted in black and brown combination and reaches up to her back. She is wearing well finished pearl necklace with pendent and thread necklace along with a beautiful pendent. She has bangles in her hands and rings in fingers. in background a lamp along with lampshade is shown with burning flame and smoke. The background is made beautifully by the fusion of red, yellow and black colors. The whole composition is giving a beautiful impression due to its rhythmic form and flexibility. Now it is a collection of National galleries of modern art New Delhi.

Human Values –

@ love and commitment

Description in 30 words – This is a one of the best wash painting of Bengal school by M.A.R. Chughtai. A profile face lady is shown coming out of her room. The Whole composition giving a beautiful impression.

Shiva and Sati

SUBJECT MATTER– The subject matter of the painting depicts lord Shiva is shown seated and carrying goddess sati in his arms and the scene is related to one of the main episodes of Shiva and sati. here sati is dead. the subject matter of this painting totally matches the title. this painting is a narrative mythology by modern Indian artist, Nandalal Bose.

Description – Shiva And Sati is a beautiful wash painting of Nand Lal Bose. it’s one of the series of his wash painting based on Shiva mythology. He transformed religious prototype venerated form of lord Shiva to a simple person of eternal youth who gives lesson to everyone from his work and behaviour, his Shiva in a new look, infect represents Shiva – tattva, the essence of Shaivism on a new spiritual platform. In this painting we feel eternal peace and sorrow is spread everywhere because Sati’s body is shown in the lap of Shiva. In spite of that, the face of Shiva is shown in deep meditation. there is a hallow shown around the head of Shiva. he looks a placid mood. there is no sign of agitation on his face. it reflects the height of spiritualism which convey s that the worst situation of life should be crossed with placid meditative mood and natural emotion. though the flat colours are used in this painting but the plasticity of Sati’s body is shown by drawing. the outline of the whole composition is smooth, rhythmic and sharp. the soft and monochromatic effect of the mixture of white, yellow ochre, orange, brown and black is nice. in the guise of this mythic theme Nand Lal gives a massage of transcendental truth to modern human life. Now, it is a collection of national gallery of modern art, new Delhi.

Human Values –

@ love, care, for his wife (sati)

Description in 30 words – Shiva and sati made by Nand lal Bose of Bengal School, in this painting lord Shiva sited with dead body of Sati in his lap. its monochromatic painting reflects supremacy of lord Shiva.

National Flag

Many high values of human life are incorporated in the Indian National Flag which are expressed through its forms and colours we get great inspiration on seeing our National Flag. IN 1905 a new awakening came in the youth of Bengal with fresh energy due to the ‘Bang – Bhang ‘movement.  From the siccas of this movement   and to express Indianness in 1906 Shachindra Nath   Bose and Sukumar designed a layout of first national flag ‘TIRANGA’ for our country.  the flag was consisting of three equal horizontal strips of green yellow and red. in the top green colour strip there were eight white lotuses shown in a row, which represented eight states of that time. on middle yellow strip the word ‘Vande Mataram’ was written in dark blue colour in Devanagari script. The lowest red strip had a white sun in the left and a white crescent moon with a star in the right   side. The first national flag of India had been unfurled on august 7,1906 in the green park Calcutta by the Gracious hands of great social reformer and freedom fighter, Shri Sunendranath Banarjee.

Again 1921 second flag was prepared in try colour under the guidance of mahatma Gandhi during the meeting of all India congress party at Vijay Vada. An enthusiastic youth of Andhra Pradesh, Pingali Venkaiyya designed two coloured flags and handed over to Gandhi ji which was made in red and green colour that represented two major communities Hindu and Muslims in country. Gandhi ji suggested to add one white strip as a symbol of the rest of Indian communities and put a dark blue charkha in its centre as a symbol of progress. it was second national flag of 1921.

On July 22, 1947 finally, a new flag was hoisted which was adopted as a national flag of independent India by constituent Assembly with some corrections in the middle national flag. This tri colour flag took the new shape with saffron at the top, white on the middle and green as its lowest band. all the three colours band are of equal size. Dharma chakra popularly known as Ashoka Chakra of Sarnath pillar in navy blue colour has been put instead of charkha. Its length to breadth ratio is 3:2. There are 24 spokes of Dharma chakra which is the representative of 24 hours of the day. The significance of saffron colour is courage and sacrifice, white symbolizes truth and peace while the green reflects faith and prosperity. Finally, circular motion of Dharma chakra marks continuous cycle progress of nation along the 24 hours of the day.

Freedom Movement

Under the planned propaganda the British were trying to prove that India has no national identity of its own. Bang- Bhang movement brought the new awareness in Indian mind.  Aim of the Bengal school was to regenerate the patriotism, to rediscover India’s past and to recollect Indian values in the field of arts by boycotting foreign trends and means. It was national emotion that made Bengal school nationalistic.

Dr. Anand Kumar Swami, the most noted writer of Indian art, a pioneer historian and scholar published a book ‘Art and Swadeshi’ in 1910 which was regarded as the manifesto of art of India.  This book gave a plea to return to those Indian sources and ideas which were being demolished by British political fervour.  He also recommended the commitment of the Bengal school and efforts of artists for giving a tremendous moral boosting to the Indian freedom movement.

Genius and creative Abanindra Nath   did so and put Indian soul before the world. paintings and articles of Devi Prasad Roy Chowdhury printed in journal such as ‘Pravasi , ‘Bharatvarsha’ and shanibarer chitthi ‘ did the same job during freedom movement. In this series, Nandlal Bose copied the paintings of Ajanta and painted his famous line drawing ‘Dandi March of mahatma Gandhi’. he also painted about 60 paintings on handmade paper for Haripura congress on the request of Mahatma Gandhi. These paintings were feast of Indian arts and beautification.  These paintings were also notable for their economy of means, boldness, vigour and decorative qualities. Through these paintings, Nandlal Bose combined art with nationalism and became the interpreter of Indian color and its souls. Abanindranath painted Mother India.  Gaganendranath   painted a caricature on the massacre of Jalianwalan Bagh which brought hatred among Indians against naked cruelty of British. the personal style developed by noted artists namely Abanindranath Tagore, Nandlal Bose, k. Venkatapa, Gaganendranath Thakur, Shailendra Nath Dey, Asit Kumar Halder and Devi Prasad Roy Chowdhury etc. saved us from the slavery of expressions and ideas which finally put the foundation of modern trends in the field of art.

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