Sunday, 28 February 2016



·        The history of art and painting in India begins with the pre-historic rock painting at Bhimbetka caves (M.P.) where we have drawings and paintings of animals.

·        The cave paintings of Narsinghgarh (Maharashtra) show skins of spotted deer left drying.
·        Thousands of years ago, paintings and drawings had already appeared on the seals of Harappan civilization.
·        The Buddhist text Vinayapitaka (4th–3rd century) describes the existence of painted figuresin many royal buildings.
·        The play Mudrarakshasa (5th Century A.D.) mentions numerous
          paintings or Patas.
·        The 6th Century AD text on aesthetics-Kamasutra by Vatsyayana hasmentioned painting amongst 64 kinds of arts and says that it was based on scientific principles.
·        The best specimens of Gupta paintings are the ones at Ajanta. Their subject was animals and birds, trees, flowers, human figures and stories from the Jataka.
·        Mural paintings are done on walls and rock surfaces like roofs and sides.

Materials used in the paintings :

·        Mention of chitra shalas (artgallery) and Shilpasashtra (technical treatises on art) have been made in literary sources.
·        However, the principal colours used were red ochre, vivid red , yellow ochre , indigo (blue) lapis lazuli blue, lampblack , chalk white  and green.
·        All these colours were locally available except lapis lazuli which came from Pakistan.
·        Mixed colours e.g. grey were used on rare occasions.


·        During the period of Delhi Sultanate, mural painting has been reported from the royal palaces and royal bed-chambers and mosques.
·        During the time of Iltutmish (1210-36) we have references of paintings.
·        During the time of Alauddin Khalji (1296-1316) we have mural painting, miniature painting (of illustrated manuscripts) and paintings on cloths.
·        During the Sultanate period, we notice the Persian and Arabic influences on Indian painting.
·        The decorative paintings of the palace of the Gwalior king Man Singh Tomar impressed both Babur and Akbar.
·        During 14th – 15th centuries A.D. miniature painting emerged as a powerful movement in Gujarat and Rajasthan and spread to Central, North and Eastern India because of the patronage of rich Jain merchants.
·        In Eastern India, in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, during the Pala kingdom in the 9th – 10th century A.D., a new kind of painting developed called the miniature painting.
·        The miniature, as the name suggests, were small works which were made on perishable materials.

·        In this category, Buddhist, Jain and Hindu manuscripts were illustrated, on palm leaves.
·        From the thirteenth century onwards, the Turkish Sultans of northern India brought with them important features of Persian court culture.
·        In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries illustrated manuscripts of Persian influence were produced at Malwa, Bengal, Delhi, Jaunpur, Gujarat and the Deccan.
·        The art of textual illustration got a new look under the Mughals. Akbar and his successors brought revolutionary changes to painting and sensual illustrations.
·        From this period book illumination or individual miniatures replaced wall painting as the most vital form of art.
·        Emperor Akbar patronised artists from Kashmir and Gujarat;
·        Humayun brought two Persian painters to his court. For the first time painters’ names were recorded in inscriptions.
·        Some great painters of this period were Abd-us-Samad Dasawanth and Basawan.
·        Between 1562 and 1577 a series of nearly 1400 cloth paintings were produced representing the new style and were placed in the imperial studio.
·        Akbar also encouraged the art of making portraits.

·        The art of painting reached its climax during the period of Jahangir who himself was a great painter and connoisseur of art.
·        Artists began to use vibrant colours such as peacock blue and red and were able to give three dimensional effects to paintings.
·        Mansur, Bishan Das and Manohar were the most gifted painters of Jahangir’s time.
·        However withdrawal of royal patronage to painting under Aurangzeb led to the dispersal of artists to different places in the country.
·        This helped in the development of the art of painting in Rajasthan and the Punjab hills giving rise to distinct schools of paintings, for example, Rajasthani and Pahari Schools.


·        In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries paintings comprised semi westernized local styles which were patronised by British residents and visitors.
·        Themes were generally drawn from Indian social life, popular festivals, and Mughal monuments.
·        Oil paintings of Raja Ravi Varma of Travancore depicting mythological and social themes became highly popular at this time.

·        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. Jamini Roy, another great painter of this period, drew inspiration from Qrissa’s pata painting and Kalighat painting of Bengal.
·        In 1943, during the period of the second world war Calcutta painters led by Paritosh Sen, Niroda Majumdar and Pradosh Dasgupta formed a group who depicted the condition of the people of India through new visual language, and novel techniques.
·        Bombay in 1948 under Francis Newton Souza. The group also included S .H. Raza, M.F. Hussain, K.M. Ara, S.K. Bakre and H.A. Gode. This group broke away from Bengal School of Art and represented the modern forceful art of independent India.
·        The Madras School of Art under Debi Prasad Roy Chowdhury and K.C.S Paniker emerged as an important art centre in post independence period and influenced a new generation of modern artists.


·        The designs are called rangoli in the North, alpana in Bengal, aipan in Uttaranchal, rangavalli in Karnataka, Kollam in Tamilnadu and mandana in Madhya Pradesh.
·        Usually rice powder is used for these paintings but coloured powder or flower petals are also used to make them more colourful.



·        Mithila painting also known as Madhubani folk art is the traditional art of the Mithila region of Bihar.
·        They are produced by village women who make three dimensional images using vegetable colour with few earthen colours and finished in black lines on cow dung treated paper.
·        These pictures tell tales especially about Sita’s exile, Ram-Laxman’s forest life, ordepict the images of Lakshmi, Ganesha, Hanuman and others from Hindu mythology.
·        They also show court scenes, wedding and social happenings.
·        Drawings in Madhubani pictures are very conceptual. First, the painter thinks and then she “draws her thought”.

KALAMKARI PAINTING : (2015 prelims)

·        The literal meaning of Kalamkari is a painting done by kalam (pen).
·        These paintings are made in Andhra Pradesh.
·        It is hand painted as well as block printing with vegetable dyes applied on cloth.
·        Vegetable dyes are used for colour in the Kalam Kari work.
·        A small place Sri-Kalahasti is the best known centre of Kalamkari art.
·        This art is mainly related to decorating temple interiors with painted cloth panels, which was developed in the fifteenth century under the patronage of Vijaynagar rulers.
·        Every scene is surrounded by floral decorative patterns.
·        These paintings are made on cloth. They are very durable and flexible in size and made according to theme.
·        The artists use a bamboo or date palm stick pointed at one end with a bundle of fine hair attached to the other end to serve as brush or pen.
·        The kalamkari dyes are obtained by extracting colours from plant roots, leaves, along with  salts of iron, tin, copper, alum etc.

Orissa Patachitra:

·        Similar to Kalighat Pats, one comes across another kind of Pats which are found in the state of Orissa.
·        The Orissa patachitras, mostly painted on cloth are more detailed and more colourful and most of these depict stories of Hindu gods and goddesses.

Phad Paintings:

·        Phad is a type of scroll painting.
·        This type of painting is a most famous painting of Rajasthan, mainly found in the Bhilwara district.
·        The main themes of the phad paintings depict the deities and their legends and the stories of erstwhile Maharajas.
·        The unique features of phad paintings are the bold lines and a two dimensional treatment of figures with the entire composition arranged in sections.

Gond Art:

·        A very highly sophisticated and abstract form of Art works are also produced by the Santhals in India.
·        The Gond tribe of the Godavari belt who are as old as the Santhals
         produce figurative works.

Batik Print;

·        Not all the folk arts and crafts are entirely Indian in their origin. Some of the crafts and techniques have been imported from the Orient like the Batik.
·        But these have now been Indianised and Indian Batik is now a matured art, immensely popular and expensive.


·        Warli painting derives its name from a small tribe inhabiting the remote, tribal regions of Maharashtra.
·        These are decorative paintings on floors and walls of ‘gond’ and ‘kol’ tribes’ homes and places of worship.
·        These paintings are made mostly by the women as part of their routine at auspicious celebrations.
·        Subjects are predominantly religious with simple and local materials like white colour and rice paste and local vegetable glue on  plain contrasting background, made in a geometric patterns like    squares, triangles, and circles.
·        Unlike other tribal art forms, Warli paintings do not employ religious iconography and is a more secular art form.


·        Kalighat painting derives its name from its place of origin Kalighat in Kolkata.
·        Kalighat is a bazaar near the Kali temple in Kolkota. Patua painters from rural Bengal came and settled in Kalighat to make images of gods and goddesses in the early nineteenth century.
·        These paintings on paper made with water colours comprise clear sweeping line drawings using bright colours and a clear background. Subjects are images of Kali, Lakshmi, Krishna, Ganesha, Shiva, and other gods and goddesses.
·        This painting form has its roots in the culture upheavds of 19th century colonial Bengal.
·        Kalighat paintings became the best mirror of this cultural and aesthetic shift.


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