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Item Description:

Pencil on paper


9 3/4 x 6 5/8 in. (24.8 x 16.9 cm.); 6 3/4 x 9 3/4 in. (16.9 x 25 cm.) (2)

Initialled 'G.T.' centre right

'What profoundly attracted me was the uniqueness of his creation, a lively curiosity in his constant experiments and some mysterious depth of their imaginative value... He sought out his own un-trodden path of adventure, attempted marvellous experiments in colouring and made fantastic trials in the magic of light and shade.'

Rabindranath Tagore

The current pair of line drawings once formed part of a sketchbook of preparatory drawings and studies, formerly owned by the Tagore family. As a whole, these sketches offer a rare glimpse into Gaganendranath Tagore's artistic process. The drawings presented in the sketchbook included characters from Bhodhor Bahadur, a series of fairy tales for children, written by Tagore in the late 1920s, and several preparatory drawings for his cartoons, published in three volumes: Birup Bajra (Strange Thunderbolts) and Adbhut Lok (Realm of the Absurd) published in 1917, and Nava Hullod (Reform Screams) published in 1921. Some of these line drawings are studies for finished caricatures which are now in the collections of Rabindra Bhavan at Visva-Bharati in Santiniketan, the Rabindra Bharati Society in Kolkata, and the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi. Among his most important and significant works, they have been published in Samik Bandyopadhyay (ed.),Paintings of Gaganendranath Tagore, Kolkata, 2015, pp. 233, 239, 240; and Pulinbihari Sen (ed.),Gaganendranath Tagore, Kolkata, 1972, p. 55.

The current two examples include preparatory studies for three works that were published later in slightly altered forms in Reform Screams. The figure of Rabindranath Tagore seated on a low chair flying through a starlit sky was finally published under the title Poetical Scream:- Latest Flight of the Poet. The reclining figure (a self portrait), which appears beneath the poet in the current sketch, eventually formed part of a second cartoon titled Creepy Scream:- Collapse of the artist after his visit to the Legislative Council, and the final figure of a bear, identified by a label on his belt as Mr Strike, formed the basis for the third cartoon titled Human Scream:- Don't ! It is a loser.

A self-taught artist, Tagore ventured into caricature with his sketches of jurors made during his court summons in 1906 and 1907. Between 1909 and 1911, Gaganendranath produced numerous portrait sketches characterised by spontaneous brush lines, touched in with tones, where both line and tone fuse with each other to suggest volume. In his Vichitra club drawings, made between 1916-1918, he showed great wit and humour in drawing out the essence of his characters. The forms are bold, show great control of the brush and tone, and reveal a fine understanding of human physiognomy. 'His speciality lay in the perspicuity of the facial expression and of the inner state of mind of the person portrayed.' (Ratan Parimoo, 'The Pictorial World of Gaganendranath Tagore', Gaganendranath Tagore, New Delhi, 1996, p. 51)

Mulk Raj Anand observed that Tagore 'sought to absorb world influences into the service of his own peculiar private visions of forms, and as a commentator through his cartoons on current affairs, he displays a depth of understanding about the mental and mortal crises in which India has been involved and an extraordinary technical virtuosity as a craftsman.' (Pulinbihari Sen (ed.),Gaganendranath Tagore, Kolkata, 1972, p. 55)

NATIONAL ART TREASURE - NON-EXPORTABLE ITEM (Please refer to the Terms and Conditions of Sale at the back of the catalogue)


The paper tones of both sketches have discolored slightly with age and the original paper tones are slightly brighter than the catalogue illustrations. Minor foxing is visible in both works. There are scatted wormholes within both works, as visible in the catalogue illustration. Two minor tears to the extreme right edge of the first work with associated creases, which is partially visible in the catalogue illustration. Fair overall condition.

About The Artist:



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