DMPQ- . “Bengal became the centre of painting in modern India.” Explain.

. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries paintings comprised semi westernised local styles which were patronised by British residents and visitors. Themes were generally drawn from Indian social life, popular festivals, and Mughal monuments. These reflected the improvised Mughal traditions. Shaikh Zia-ud-Din’s bird studies for Lady Impey and the portrait paintings of Ghulam Ali Khan for William Fraser and Colonel Skinner are the examples of some excellent paintings of this period.

Rabindranath Tagore, Abanindranath Tagore, E.B. Havell and Ananda Kehtish Coomaraswamy played an important role in the emergence of the Bengal school of Art. The Bengal School had a great flowering at Shantiniketan where Rabindranath Tagore set up the Kala Bhavan. Talented artists like Nandalal Bose, Binod Behari Mukherjee and Ramkinkar Baij rendered training to aspiring artists. Nandalal often derived inspiration from Indian folk art and also from Japanese painting while Binod Behari Mukerjee was deeply interested in oriental traditions. Jamini Roy, another great painter of this period, drew inspiration from Qrissa’s pata painting and Kalighat painting of Bengal. Amrita Shergil, a great painter received education in Paris and Budapest. Considered a prodigy from a Sikh father and Hungarian mother, she painted on Indian themes in bright colours specially Indian women and peasants. Though she died very young, she left behind a rich legacy of Indian paintings.

Gradually some deeper changes took place in the thinking of the English educated urban middle class which began to be reflected in the expressions of the artists. Increasing awareness about British rule, ideals of nationalism and the desire for a national identity led to creations which were distinct from earlier art traditions.

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