NCERT / CBSE NOTES | Class 8th (VIII) : Chapter Summary
The Changing World of Visual Arts
New Forms of Imperial Art
European artists brought with them new styles and techniques of painting which the Indians were unfamiliar with. These artists painted on a variety of subjects, like picturesque, landscapes, portraits and historical events.
Thomas Daniell and William Daniell were famous picturesque painters in the colonial period. The portrait paintings were life-size and portrayed the wealth, lifestyle and status of the person in the picture. One of the most famous portrait painters to visit India was Johann Zoffany. The European historical paintings depicted always British supremacy over Indians.
Indian Art During Colonial Period
Tipu Sultan encouraged artists to paint traditional paintings and not get influenced by the British. Mir Jafar and Mir Qasim encouraged local artists to adopt European techniques of paintings. The East India Company officials encouraged court artists to draw for them.
Kalighat, a pilgrimage centre in Calcutta, saw a lot of development in art in the 19th century. The Kalighat artists created scroll paintings i.e. paintings made on a long roll of paper.
Influenced by imperial art, the artists began using shading techniques to give figures of a three-dimensional feel. After the 1840s, the Kalighat paintings evolved and focussed more on political and social life under the British.
These paintings were produced by produced by poor artists and the middle class Indians as well who owned printing presses.
With the spread of nationalism the paintings began to carry nationalist messages in them. The depiction of “Bharat Mata” or “Mother India” was the most popular one.
Ravi Varma belonged to the princely state of Travancore in Kerala. He was trained in the European techniques of oil painting and realistic life study. Raja Ravi Varma was amongst the first painters to fuse Indian tradition with European art. He painted scenes from Indian mythology, using western techniques of shading and realism.
By the 1880s, Raja Ravi Varma set up his own printing press and picture production team. Copies of his paintings were printed in large numbers and became easily affordable.
Abanindranath Tagore, the nephew of Rabindranath Tagore, and other artists belonging to his group criticized and labeled Raja Ravi Varma’s paintings as too westernized and imitative. These artists drew inspiration from the ancient mural paintings of the Ajanta and the miniature paintings of medieval India.
The Banished Yaksha of Kalidas’s poem Meghaduta, painted by Abanindranath Tagore, is an example of the use of Japanese water colour landscapes in Indian art.
After the 1920s, many artists abandoned the painting style popularized by Abanindranath Tagore. The new artists started painting on real life themes rather than ancient art forms like tribal designs and folk art.