The Changing World of Visual Arts
Fill in the blanks:
- The art form which observed carefully and tried to capture exactly what the eye saw is called Oil painting/realism.
2. The style of painting which showed Indian landscape as a quaint, unexplored land is called Picturesque.
3. Paintings which showed the social lives of Europeans in India are called Portrait.
4. Paintings which depicted scenes from British imperial history and their victories are called History Painting.
Point out which of the following were brought in with British art:
(a) oil painting
(c) life-size portrait painting
(d) use of perspective
(e) mural art
Describe in your own words one painting from this chapter which suggests that the British were more powerful than Indians. How does the artist depict this?
- The Indians are shown as submissive, as inferior, as serving their white masters. On the other hand, the British are shown as superior and imperious.
- They flaunt their clothes, stand regally or sit arrogantly, and live a life of luxury. Indians are never at the center of these paintings.
- They usually occupy a shadowy background.
Why did the scroll painters and potters come to Kalighat? Why did they begin to paint new themes?
The scroll painters and potters come to Kalighat in the hope of new patrons and new buyers of their art. After the 1840s, a new trend was visible within the Kalighat artists. Living in a society where values, tastes, social norms and customs were undergoing rapid changes, Kalighat artists responded to the world around and produced paintings on social and political themes.
Why can we think of Raja Ravi Varma’s paintings as national?
- Raja Ravi Varma mastered the Western art of oil painting and realistic life study, but painted themes from Indian mythology and so his painting style was seen as national.
- He dramatised on canvas, scene after scene from the Ramayana and the
- He drew on the theatrical performances of mythological stories.
From the 1880s, his mythological paintings became the rage among Indian princes and art collectors.
- Raja Ravi Varma responded to the huge popular appeal of his paintings.
- Ravi Varma decided to set up a picture production team and printing press. ‘Colour prints of his religious paintings were mass-produced. Even the poors could buy these cheap prints.
In what way did the British history paintings in India reflect the attitudes of imperial conquerors?
British history paintings celebrated the British, their power, their victories and their supremacy. The paintings were full of action and energy. The painting dramatised the event and glorified the British triumph.
These paintings sought to create a public memory of imperial triumphs. Victories had to be remembered, implanted in the memory of people, both in India and Britain. Only then could the British appear invincible and all-powerful.
Why do you think some artists wanted to develop a national style of art?
Some artists rejected the art of Ravi Varma as imitative and westernised, and declared that such a style was unsuitable for depicting the nation’s ancient myths and legends. They felt that a genuine Indian style of painting had to draw inspiration from non-Western art traditions, and try to capture the spiritual essence of the East.
These artists broke away from the convention of oil painting and the realistic style and turned for inspiration to medieval Indian traditions of miniature painting and the ancient art of mural painting in the Ajanta caves. Abanindranath Tagore was one of the first artists who wanted to develop a national style of art
Why did some artists produce cheap popular prints? What influence would such prints have had on the minds of people who looked at them?
Often, middle class Indian artists produced cheap popular prints with the help of new printing press.
1. The prints were produced in large numbers and at cheap rates so that even poor could buy them.
2. These prints carried nationalist messages and influenced large number of people and created nationalistic fervour.
- They allowed prints to be produced in even larger numbers.
- These prints could be sold cheaply in the market.
- Even the poor could buy them.
Look at any tradition of art in your locality. Find out how it has changed in the last 50 years. You may check who supports the artists, and who looks at their art. Remember to examine the changes in styles and themes.
To be done by students.
Objective Type Questions
1. Match the following:
2. State whether True or False:
- Raja Ravi Varma’s paintings were termed as national. True
- Rabindranath Tagore rejected the art of Ravi Varma as imitative and westernised. False
- Thomas and William Daniell came to India in 1785. True
- Tipu Sultan was defeated in the battle of Mysore. False
- The third category of imperial art was History Painting. True
- Photographers came to India from Europe in the 18th century. False
- European artists came to India with British engineers. False
3. Fill in the blanks:
- Thomas and William Daniell stayed in India for seven years
- The most powerful enemy of the British was Tipu Sultan
- The style of painting which showed the Indian landscape as a quaint land is called picturesque.
- Raja Ravi Varma belonged to the family of the Maharajas of Travancore in Kerala.
- Abanindranath Tagore was the nephew of Rabindranath Tagore.
Multiple Choice Questions
Choose the correct answer
1. Which is NOT the name of scroll painters (Potters)
2. Which of the following were brought in with British art?
(a) Oil painting
(c) Mural art
(d) Life-size portrait painting
3.General Baird was
(a) an artist
(b) commander of the British army
(c) a trader
(d) a Governor
4. Tipu Sultan was defeated in the battle of
(b) commander of the British army
(d) a Governor
5. Raja Ravi Varma decided to set up a picture production team and printing press on the outskirts of
6. Abanindranath Tagore was influenced by the art of
(a) British artists
(b) Japanese artists
(c) French artists
(d) Chinese artists
7. A new trend within the Kalighat artists
(a) after the 1810s
(b) after the 1820s
(c) after the 1840s
(d) after the 1860s
8. Mechanical printing presses were set up
(a) the late sixteenth century
(b) the late seventeenth century
(c) the late eighteenth century
(d) the late nineteenth century
9. Kalighat is located in
(b) West Bengal