Native artists were encouraged to paint images of Indian life which reflected the social fabric of the period.
By the late 18th century, the British emerged as the dominant power in India, encouraging middle-class young Englishmen to join the East India Company as civilians and soldiers. The newcomers were fascinated by the variegated landscape of the country, its magnificent monuments and the diversity of its people. They wanted to acquire pictures of their new environment, but not all of them could afford to buy the works of noted British artists engaged in portraying the scenic splendour of India and its exotic people. As a result, British residents and travellers started commissioning native artists to create paintings of their chosen subjects. They were keen to collect them as mementos and souvenirs for their friends and relatives in England. For the British, almost every aspect of life in India was worth sketching. Their favourite subjects, however, were historic monuments with their novel architecture, people of different classes in colourful costumes, festivals and rituals, crafts and occupations, different modes of transport, and nautch girls. Continue reading Company paintings of India
Legacy of Intimacy
One of the most popular artists of British India, Sir Charles D’Oyly was known for his perceptive delineation of Indian women in the 19th century.
British artists began arriving in India in the 1760s. They were the first to draw true-to-life pictures of the Indian panorama. Lured by the prospect of fame and fortune, most professional artists engaged themselves in making portraits of the sahibs and native princes or pictures of historical events of imperial interest. The amateur artists, on the other hand, applied their talents to depicting Indian people and their way of life. Some were very talented and their works were of a high standard. They had received training in drawing and water colour paintings, which formed an essential part of the liberal education in England those days. The professional artists in Calcutta gave drawing lessons to sahibs and memsahibs interested in art. Continue reading Indian women in British Indian Paintings
Eminent photographer Benoy K. Behl’s film The Paintings of India reveals the subtleties of the art tradition in the country writes Mitali Kar.
There is an air of hurried activity at Benoy K. Behl’s studio in New Delhi. The well-known lensman and art historian, best known for photographing the Ajanta paintings in their true colours, and the author of the Thames and Hudson published book The Ajanta Caves, is discussing the background score for a series of 26 documentary films to be aired on Doordarshan next year. Matthew Kurien, the computer artist is busy “cleaning up” images on the computer, while Latika Gupta, assistant director is sifting through heaps of transparencies. Sangitika Nigam, a fellow art historian, is coordinating the work. It may seem a long way until next year but Behl is in a hurry and one can’t blame him. He is covering 40 districts spread across eight states in only 45 days from the middle of October. Continue reading Paintings of India – A Brush with History
Mughal, Persian and Western fashions have influenced ethnic jewellery for years. While assimilating changes, Indian jewellery has retained its own identity and created a huge domestic market.
From time immemorial, jewellery has been an important part of festivals and celebrations. Gold, more than any other metal, has been used by artisans and crafstmen to make brilliant and exquisite pieces of jewellery. In India, gold jewellery has evolved from an amalgamation of various cultures, traditions and customs. At the same time, influences of foreign culture can be seen in designs. This has led to cross-cultural exchanges resulting in the creation of unique pieces of jewellery. Continue reading Jewellery art of India
Said to be the museum of India, Kerala, in the south-west, reflects countless forms of ritual, classical, martial and folk arts.
Prayer to reach and please the Gods, to communicate with them and live in their sacred presence is achieved through different forms of art. It can be expressed through graceful or vigorous dances, mythological dramas displaying heroism, humour and devotion, melodious singing or powerful percussions, the composing and chanting of verses and carving or painting the forms of Gods or their divine activities. Continue reading Sacred Walls of Kerala
The architectural heritage of India is interleaved with images of a long and ancient history that has patterned the philosophy and lifestyle of its people so that there is an infinite variety of architectural forms. Grandiose palaces, venerable temples, churches, mosques and monumental tombs dot the country.
In particular, the doorway has always been the focus of design as it holds a special significance in every aspect of thought. Continue reading Where doors tell tales – art of doors
From the land of the Punjab come the beauteous phulkaris. With their delicate and dense patterning, the creations are closely associated with many festivals and rituals.
GREEN FIELDS. VIBRANT COLOURS.
A robust joie de vivre! Speak of Punjab and the canvas instantly springs to life – hard working people who celebrate their festivals with equal zest. A canvas which is as colourful as the art of phulkari.
in social and ceremonial gatherings, the piece de resistance of a woman’s attire is her phulkari, an embroidered length of cloth that may be draped as a shawl or head-cover. The term phulkari stems from phul, which means flower, and kari, which means work. So the name translates as flower making. The embroidery done with untwisted floss silk threads simulates the effect of brilliant, coloured flowers. The large drape of the phulkari, upto about 50 inches by 100 inches is spangled with motifs. Often detailed borders and end-panels define the textlile. Continue reading Phulkari art from Punjab-India
The origins of Pithoro are obscure but as some scholars have suggested, it may have its roots in the early Aryan period.
Pithoro painting is not done for any decorative or ornamental purpose. Pithoro, or ‘Babo Pithoro’ as the tribals would call it, is an important deity in a region where several deities are worshipped. If someone, especially a young child or an unmarried girl is unwell or domestic animals are affected by an epidemic or if the land is not yielding enough- all believed to be signs of god’s anger or displeasure-the head of the family vows to provide a proper, respectable abode to Pithoro in his own home. He therefore gets Pithoro painted (or repainted, if there already is one) on the main wall, if and when he can afford the high cost involved. The main wall of the house is repaired or sometimes even reconstructed specially for Pithoro. Then, daily-for seven days-the wall surface is given a coating of plaster made from clay and dung. This is done by kumarikas or unmarried girls only The adjoining side walls are also replastered along with the main wall. Continue reading Pithoro Paintings-Tribal ritual paintings from Gujarat-India