First Indian artist to gain international recognition, Abanindranath Tagore was the principal artist and creator of 'Indian Society of Oriental Art' and the first major exponent of swadeshi values in Indian art, thereby founding the influential Bengal school of art. He was also a noted writer, particularly for children. Popularly known as 'Aban Thakur', his books Rajkahini, Budo Angla, Nalak, and Ksheerer Putul are landmarks in Bengali language children's literature.
Tagore sought to modernize Moghul and Rajput styles in order to counter the influence of Western models of art, as taught in Art Schools under the British Raj and developed the Indian style of painting, later known as Bengal school of art. Such was the success of Tagore's work that it was eventually accepted and promoted as a national Indian style within British art institutions under the epithet of Indian Society of Oriental Art.
Abanindranath Tagore CIE (অবনীন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুর) (7 August 1871 – 5 December 1951) was the principal artist and creator of the "Indian Society of Oriental Art". He was also the first major exponent of Swadeshi values in Indian art, thereby founding the influential Bengal school of art, which led to the development of modern Indian painting He was also a noted writer, particularly for children. Popularly known as 'Aban Thakur', his books Rajkahini, Budo Angla, Nalak, and Khirer Putul are landmarks in Bengali language children's literature.
Tagore sought to modernise Mughal and Rajput styles to counter the influence of Western models of art, as taught in art schools under the British Raj and developed the Indian style of painting, later known as Bengal school of art. Such was the success of Tagore's work that it was eventually accepted and promoted as a national Indian style within British art institutions under the epithet of Indian Society of Oriental Art.
Abanindranath Tagore was born in Jorasanko, Calcutta, British India, to Gunendranath Tagore. His grandfather was Girindranath Tagore, the second son of "Prince" Dwarkanath Tagore. He was a member of the distinguished Tagore family, and a nephew of the poet Rabindranath Tagore. His grandfather and his elder brother, Gaganendranath Tagore, were also artists.
Tagore learned art when studying at Sanskrit College, Kolkata in the 1880s. In 1890, around the age of twenty years, Abanindranath attended the Calcutta School of Art where he learnt to use pastels from O. Ghilardi, and oil painting from Charles Palmer, European painters who taught in that institution.
In 1889, he married Suhasini Devi, daughter of Bhujagendra Bhusan Chatterjee, a descendant of Prasanna Coomar Tagore. At this time he left the Sanskrit College after nine years of study and studied English as a special student at St. Xavier's College, which he attended for about a year and a half.
He had a sister, Sunayani Devi.
In the early 1890s several illustrations were published in Sadhana magazine, and in Chitrangada, and other works by Rabindranath Tagore. He also illustrated his own books.About the year 1897 he took lessons from the vice-principal of the Government School of Art, studying in the traditional European academic manner, learning the full range of techniques, but with a particular interest in watercolour. At this time he began to come under the influence of Mughal art, making a number of works based on the life of Krishna in a Mughal-influenced style. After meeting E. B. Havell, Tagore worked with him to revitalise and redefine art teaching at the Calcutta School of art, a project also supported by his brother Gaganendranath, who set up the Indian Society of Oriental Art.
Tagore believed in the traditional Indian techniques of painting. His philosophy rejected the "materialistic" art of the west and came back to Indian traditional art forms. He was influenced by the Mughal school of painting as well as Whistler's Aestheticism. In his later works, Tagore started integrating Chinese and Japanese calligraphic traditions into his style.
Tagore believed that Western art was "materialistic" in character, and that India needed to return to its own traditions to recover spiritual values. Despite its Indocentric nationalism, this view was already commonplace within British art of the time, stemming from the ideas of the Pre-Raphaelites. Tagore's work also shows the influence of Whistler's Aestheticism. Partly for this reason many British arts administrators were sympathetic to such ideas, especially as Hindu philosophy was becoming increasingly influential in the West following the spread of the Theosophy movement. Tagore believed that Indian traditions could be adapted to express these new values, and to promote a progressive Indian national culture.
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