Bengal's Leading Lights

One of the most distinguished families in Bengal, the Tagores exercised unparalleled influence over the cultural landscape of the region. The Nobel Laureate, Rabindranath Tagore (1861 - 1941), and two of his nephews, Gaganendranath Tagore (1867-1938) and Abanindranath Tagore (1871 - 1951) were recognised as India’s National Art Treasure artists. Sunayani Devi (1875 -1962), their sister, is regarded as one of modern India’s first women painters known by name. Her lyrical paintings and embroideries often looked inward to an imagined world of fables and myths. At the turn of the twentieth century, we see Abanindranath emerging as the founder of the Bengal School as he envisioned a new Indian art that was free of colonial influence, rooted in pan-Asianism. Gaganendranath, on the other hand, was a prolific satirist and cartoonist, who imagined new forms and perspectives inspired by Cubism. Together they formed the influential Indian Society of Oriental Art in 1907, while Rabindranath’s school and university at Santiniketan would continue to shape modern art in Bengal for generations to come.