Ink and wash on paper
10 x 7 3/8 in. (25 x 18.8 cm.)
Signed 'Rabindra' lower middle and further inscribed in Bengali on reverse
From the collection of Nandalal Bose's eldest daughter, Gouri Bhanja, nee Bose and thence by descent
The Tagore family played a major role in what is known as the Bengal renaissance, and Rabindranath Tagore is generally considered the most distinguished member of the family. His career as a poet, novelist, playwright and song-writer is well documented, and he became internationally famous when in 1913, he was awarded the Nobel Prize. He was knighted by the British and is held in the deepest esteem by his compatriots. Santiniketan, the school that he established on his family land, was modelled on the ancient forest schools of India, and by the 1920s it had become an institution of world renown, with resident and visiting scholars from all over the globe. He was, furthermore, a close friend of Mahatma Gandhi and an inspiration to the artists and scholars that he employed at Santiniketan.
For much of his life, despite a deep reverence for all the arts, Rabindranath focused on his writing. Although the majority of his paintings were produced in the last ten years of his life, he had sketched as a young man and continued to draw intermittently throughout his life, gifting several of these early works to family and friends. Increasingly, however, towards the end of his life he became more and more fascinated with painting. What began as doodling on his working manuscripts became an obsession, and in the last ten years of his life he is known to have produced almost two thousand pictures.
Abanindranath Tagore says of his uncle's work: ...it has happened like a volcanic eruption Just think of it what an abundance of colour, lines and ideas was stored in the inmost recesses of the heart for which literature was not enough nor songs, nor lyrics Which had to come out at last in paintings. (Abanindranath Tagore, reprinted, Bichitra, An Exhibition of Rabindranath Tagores Paintings, exhibition catalogue, NGMA, Mumbai, 2000, p. 33)
In 1920 Rabindranath Tagore requested Nandalal Bose to become the head of the Arts Faculty at Santiniketan and they worked closely together until Tagores death in 1941. Nandalal himself recognised that Rabindranath Tagores paintings represented some of the earliest examples of modernist art in India. He states, Gurudevs paintings may seem akin to primitive art because of their non-decorativeness and boldness of expression. But from the point of view of classification they are modern and alive with intelligence. The commitment to life which is the source of his artistic creativity is nourished by the culture, taste and thinking of our age; the touch or hint of primitivism has given it boldness and strength. (Nandalal Bose, ibid.)
Tagore's paintings can be broadly categorised into three types: human figures, landscapes, and primitive forms that appear to be inspired by tribal and oceanic art. The two lots in the current sale fall into this final category. In this style of work, Tagore reveals his naturaltendency towards a symbolist approach, his subconscious doodles and these more evolved works seem to tap an archaic source. The artist states 'I have a force acting in me... that ever tries to win me for itself... this life impulse I speak of belongs to a personality beyond the ego.' ('Rabindranath Tagore', Six Indian Painters, London, 1982, p. 18)
About The Artist:
RABINDRANATH TAGORE (1861 - 1941)