Bengal School of Art

About

Emerging in early 20th-century India during the British Raj (the period of British rule over the Indian subcontinent that ended in 1947), the Bengal School of Art sought to establish a distinctly Indian art that celebrated an indigenous cultural heritage rather than Western art and culture. Ernest Binfield Havell, a teacher at the Calcutta Art School, was instrumental in the movement’s formation. Rejecting the academic tradition typically promoted in British art schools, he encouraged students’ discovery of Mughal art—art produced under the Mughal empire in Southern Asia between 1526 and 1857—a curriculum that was vehemently protested by the faculty, students, and press. With the young painter Abanindranath Tagore, Havell went on to spearhead a nationalist and modern art movement that celebrated historical, spiritual, and artistic Indian traditions. Comprising a diverse group of artists that included Gaganendranath Tagore, Abdur Rahman Chugtai, and Ganesh Pyne, the Bengal School of Art also incorporated elements from Far Eastern art, such as the Japanese wash technique.

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