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Atul Bose

Indian Modern Artist
Born 1898, Mymensingh, East Bengal, India
Died 1977
Lived and worked in Kolkata, India

Atul Bose's artwork reflects the socio - political scenario of his times. He specialized in portraiture, landscapes, and other idyllic scenes in the realist tradition and attained immense popularity. Oil became the preferred medium to showcase his creativity. 

Later he became the founder member of the National Academy of Calcutta where he promoted academic art within the indigenous culture.



Royal Academy of Arts, London


Jubilee Art Academy, Calcutta, India

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Atul Bose was technically accomplished in portraiture

His oeuvre, greatly influenced by the Western art, reflects the experience of European realist paintings. Having studied academic art, his paintings were marked by sensitive representation of an artist well versed in the technical nuances of his trade.

He specialized in portraiture, landscapes, and idyllic scenes in the realistic tradition. After completing his studies, he embarked on his artistic career as a scenery painter for theatres and produced portraits of the deceased from photographs which was a popular Victorian custom. He also made detailed portraits of the leaders of the freedom struggle, which held great significance, as it proved that the art forms of that contemporary moment were rooted in a nationalist feeling and expression was related to ideology.

Atul Bose, Portrait of Rabindranath Tagore, oil on canvas, 24 x 18.1"

Atul Bose preferred to use oil as a medium of creativity

Bose worked with several mediums such as watercolours, oils, and pastels but preferred to produce most of the portraits in oil. During his stay in England, he made sketches and oil paintings in the nude. He learnt his most valuable lessons while working with one of the English post-Impressionist artists and his influence could be found in Bose's use of greys and browns in some of his later works.

Atul Bose, Standing Nude, oil on canvas, 20 x 39"

Leaders of freedom struggle became subjects for their portraitures

Bose created sketches and oil paintings of many well known leaders of freedom struggle. In this way, his art depicted the ‘here’ and 'now'. Bose's 'Bengal Tiger' which is a sketch of the educationalist Ashutosh Mukherjee was much appreciated. That earned him a scholarship to the Royal Academy in London. The sketch was later used by the 'Times Literary Supplement' in their obituary of Mukherjee.

Atul Bose, Portrait of Ashutosh Mukherjee, pencil on paper

His work reflected the immediate and harsh realities of his times

Atul Bose's work possesses an integrity and nonchalant charm. The integrity mostly stems from the immediacy which springs from being located in the center of all things political.

This worked In the 1940s, Indian art experienced an ideological shift in its course. At that time many artists emerged whose political consciousness was based on their immediate realities which became the basis of their arts as well. Atul Bose was one such artist whose work depicted the immediate and unpleasant reactions to the social injustice and repression.

The Bengal Famine was one such catastrophe where thousands of farmers died of hunger. Food and grain became insufficient due to black market and excessive greed of some people. People from rural areas migrated to the cities in search of food only to die on the streets. Atul Bose, along with a few artists, poignantly captured the inhumanity of the situation in his sketches and oil paintings.

Atul Bose, Famine Series I & II, 1943, pencil on paper, 12.7 x 18.1"

He encouraged the study of art realism in institutions as opposed to the traditional Bengal art

His artistic life was marked by a continuous confrontation with the Bengal School artists. All through his artistic life he was engaged in establishing art institutions where he made an attempt to imbibe academic art within the indigenous culture.

After studying from the Royal Academy in London, he became the founder member of the National Academy of Calcutta.

The Academy seeks to emphasize realism in contrast to the lyrical themes made with the wash techniques that were popularize by the Bengal School.

Atul Bose, Portrait of a Young Man, 1939, pastel on card