Nandalal Bose’s initiation into painting is closely associated with the Tagore family. Hailing from Bihar, Bose was fifteen when he came to Calcutta to continue his education, where his passion for art ultimately took him to the Government College of Arts and Crafts, to be groomed by Abanindranath Tagore for five years from 1905-10. Bose drew his early philosophical inspiration from Ananda Coomaraswamy, Sister Nivedita and E. B. Havell, and also from the Japanese painters in Calcutta whose influence led him to the significance of valuing one’s artistic heritage. Close association with the Tagores awakened his idealism for a nationalistic consciousness and commitment toward classical and folk art, along with its underlying spirituality and symbolism.
When, in 1919, Bose was invited by Rabindranath Tagore to take charge of the newly-founded Kala Bhavana in Santiniketan, he focused mostly on the awakening of the creative potential of each student while laying emphasis on the unity between art and nature. In his own work, Bose experimented with the flat treatment of Mughal and Rajasthani traditions and played with the Sino-Japanese style and technique in his washes.
The Thirties saw a transition in his works from figuration to landscape. Engaging with various styles, Nandalal Bose came up with a series of temperas marked by the impact of post-impressionist and expressionist renderings. Awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1954, his works were declared a National Art Treasure under the Antiquities and Art Treasure Act 1972.