Who is Abanindranath Tagore?
Abanindranath Tagore was a prolific painter and the founder of the Bengal School of art. His family were Kolkata aristocrats who greatly influenced and spearheaded art and culture in the city. He was born in the Tagore family bungalow in Jorasanko and grew up to be a prolific painter and an extremely influential revivalist of Indian art.
How did he become an artist?
A young Abanindranath studied his craft at the Calcutta School of Art where he matured as a painter under the influence of Italian art-teacher Signor O. Gilhardi and British teacher Charles Palmer, who helped him developed his technique in painting. Later he would come in contact with Japanese painter and art-critic Okakura, who was visiting India with the philosopher Swami Vivekananda. Okakura taught him that the spirit of a culture is represented in its art which guided him on the path to revivalism. He also learnt from the Japanese master painter that gesture and movement of the hand while painting played an important role in spirit of the painting itself.
Tagore worked as the Vice Principle of the Government College of Art where he earned a reputation as an Indian renaissance revivalist. The first thing he did was replace the European style paintings in the buildings with those from the Rajput and Moghul schools. He invited renowned painters as resident artists at the college to whom students had full access and supported the local hand-loom industry by commissioning fabric that his family bought or was donated to the Indian freedom struggle.
Abanindranath, like Raja Ravi Varma helped modernise Indian painting and during his time as an educator nurtured the talents of other soon-to-be artists such as Jamini Roy, Asit Halder, Nandalal Bose.