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Bengal School of Art

It was a style and an approach to art that flourished in early 20th century India. It emerged as a nationalist movement which challenged academic art styles of Indian artists like Raja Ravi Verma. It sought to revitalise Indian cultural history, not expressed in the schemata of western art forms but by reviving indigenous techniques like medieval miniatures and murals and materials like tempera and watercolour on paper consciously avoiding oil on canvas paintings. This revivalist project in art was led by Abindranath Tagore, nephew of Rabindranath Tagore, EB Havell, Principal of Calcutta Government School of Art and Sister Nivedita. In his rejection of the colonial aesthetic, Abindranath turned to Japan in an attempt to imbibe and propose a pan-Asian aesthetic independent of the western one. From them the Bengal School artists learnt the wash technique, innovating it to suit their own needs.  

Further Reading

The Bengal School of Painting and the Nationalist-revivalist Movement in Bengal by Baruna Bhattacharjee

Indian Art by Partha Mitter

Art and Nationalism in Colonial India, 1850-1922: Occidental Orientations by Partha Mitter


Abanindranath Tagore, Bharat Mata