MOTHER AND CHILD
MOTHER AND CHILD
NATIONAL ART TREASURE - NON-EXPORTABLE ITEM (Please refer to the Terms and Conditions of Sale at the back of the catalogue.)
PROPERTY FROM AN EMINENT MUMBAI COLLECTION
Tempera on linen laid on board
36 5/8 x 18 3/4 in. (93 x 47.6 cm.)
Signed in Bengali lower right
Formerly in the Collection of Rajmata Gayatri Devi of Jaipur.
Jamini Roy trained at the Government School of Art in Kolkata, where he was taught the tenets of the British Academic style. Rudi von Leyden states, 'a broad minded father allowed him to go to Calcutta to learn the business of an artist, in the Government School, an institution which by its Victorian respectability and commercialism was eminently suited to produce the diplomaed "art babu". Here Jamini learnt and became extremely proficient in the academic techniques. Soon enough he was one of Calcutta's popular portrait painters far above his contemporaries in skill, taste and painting sense.' (Rudi von Leyden, 'Jamini Roy', The Art of Jamini Roy, Centenary Volume, Kolkata, 1987, p. 37)
Despite achieving some early commercial success as a portrait painter, Jamini Roy soon became disillusioned with the academic style and searched for a new source of inspiration. Referring to the realism of western painting, the artist himself states, 'they devoted themselves to precision and polish and thus eventually forgot the essential function of art... And then at long last, the painters of Europe appear to have become upset. The dead limit in sophistication and accuracy was already reached. And what next? The artists find no answer to this question and see no path before them. It is like a game of chess in which you find yourself checkmated. The old faith in the Christ-myth waned away while the artists failed to pin their faith in a new myth. So they look desperate. In the contemporary art of Europe, you can see such signs of desperation. The artists could perhaps have avoided this only if they had opened the game with the correct moves.' (Jamini Roy, translated from the Bengali by Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya, op. cit., p. 16)
In search for a new source of inspiration, Jamini Roy briefly flirted with the Indian 'revivalist movement' represented by the Bengal School, and so he decided to leave the confines of Kolkata to return to his rural roots. 'Impressionism was wholly alien to Jamini Roy's temperament. That is why he forsook the pseudo-Japanese style of the Bengal School. He wanted the clear line and unabashed colour. He fled from Calcutta to a Bengal village. He lived among artisans who paint our remarkably expressionistic pats...He learnt from them the secret of the fundamental rounded line, the expressive contour enclosing in it the human form in one vital sweep.' (Professor Shahid Suhrawardy, op. cit., p. 17)
The current painting depicting a Santhal woman holding a young child in her arms perfectly illustrates this learning. The shaded background is complemented by a low- hanging branch of a tree that enters the picture frame at the perfect angle. This style of painting and the subject matter appears at a moment in the artist's career when he had taken this first step away from his academic training and the Bengal School style, but had not yet fully absorbed the folk traditions of the pat painters of rural Bengal. 'These paintings have something of the recognisability of portraits, and yet the human features are first and foremost those of types rather than individuals. This is significant when we consider that Jamini Roy, the purest painter in Bengal, is at the same time the painter who responds most sensitively to the distinctive characteristics of these sects and tribes... But of course he was not content to rest here. He went on searching for purer line and even more abstract form, which led him next to the brush drawings in lamp-black.' (Bishnu Dey and John Irwin, Jamini Roy, Kolkata, 1944, p. 25)
This work was formerly in the Collection of Rajmata Gayatri Devi of Jaipur; a lady revered for her refined taste as much as she was for her timeless beauty. Maharani Gayatri Devi (1919-2009) was the daughter of the Maharaja of Cooch Behar, and married Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II of Jaipur in 1940. Despite marrying him at a time when there were still strict societal norms that young women were expected to follow, the Maharani championed extensively for women's rights, including opening a school for girls in Jaipur in 1943 and working to abolish the purdah system in Rajasthan. She was an accomplished rider and enjoyed playing various sports.
* Antiquity or Art Treasure – Non-exportable Item. Please refer to the Terms and Conditions of Sale.
About The Artist:
JAMINI ROY (1887-1972)