Nandalal 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 impressed upon him the significance of valuing one’s artistic heritage.
Hailing from Munger in Bihar, he 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 from 1905-10.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 at his Visva-Bharati University in Santiniketan, he focussed mostly on the awakening of the creative potential of each student while laying emphasis on the unity of 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 1930s saw a transition in his works from figuration to landscape. Engaging with various styles, Bose came up with a series of temperas marked by the impact of post-impressionist and expressionist renderings. His ‘posters’ for meetings of the Indian National Congress, and his illustrations, along with a group of other artists, of the Constitution of India, acknowledged his contribution to the creation of a new art for India.
Awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1954, his works were declared a National Art Treasure under the Antiquities and Art Treasure Act 1972. Bose passed away in Calcutta on 16 April 1966.
'One should meet nature, meet life, and study her with patience and love and in minute detail’
The ‘Manifestations’ series of 20th Century Indian Art, Editions V, VI, VII, IX, X, XI
DAG, New Delhi and Mumbai, 2011-14
‘Indian Landscapes: The Changing Horizon’
DAG, New Delhi, 2012
‘The Printed Picture: Four Centuries of Indian Printmaking’
DAG, New Delhi, 2012; alternate locations in Kolkata, 2013; Mumbai, 2016; Jaipur, 2017; Chandigarh, 2018
‘The Art of Bengal’
DAG, New Delhi, 2012; Mumbai, 2014; New York, 2016
‘Indian Divine: Gods & Goddesses in 19th and 20th Century Modern Art’