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Indian art practice underwent a remarkable transformation from the 1870s onwards. Several factors contributed to this shift. One was a swing in public taste, which veered towards naturalism following increased exposure to European aesthetics. The founding of British art schools in India greatly accelerated this process.

Begun in mid-19th century with the aim of training craftsmen, art schools found themselves increasingly admitting students from more educated and more well to do backgrounds. They focused their attention towards fine arts rather than the industrial arts that the British rulers wanted Indians to learn. And they ingested the lessons of perpetual representation of the object as they appear- leading to a naturalistic mode rather than conceptual art of Indian tradition, where an idea, or an idea is sought to be represented. Academic expression of realism is sought to be represented. Academic expressions of realism became the new mantra for a whole generation of artists trained in the art schools of Bombay and Calcutta. These artists were not only trained in naturalistic representation of figures and objects, but also in the skillful use of a relatively new medium oil.

Around this time, even as the earliest students of academic art like Pastonji Bomanjee were undergoing training at Sir JJ School of Art in the 1860s, a phenomenal artist was emerging in the south, in distant Trivandrum. Raja Ravi Varma was born to an aristocratic family related to the rulers of the Travancore state. The other prominent academic realists are Manchershaw Pithawalla, Antonio Xavier Trindade, Mahadev Vishvanath Dhurandhar, Sawalaram Laxman Haldankar, Jamini Prokash Gangooly and Hemendranath Majumdar.


Bomanjee, P

At Rest, Oil on cardboard, 30.5X20.5 cm

Bomanjee, P

Head of a Punjabi Woman, Oil on board, 22.8X31.8 cm

Trinidade, A X

Girl with a Vase, Oil, 79.5X102 cm

Trinidade, A X

Pan Patti Shop, Oil, 26.5X36.5 cm

Gangooly, J P

Visakhapatnam Beach, Oil on canvas, 49X39 cm

Pithawalla, M F

Girl playing near Fire, Oil on canvas, 54.5X68 cm

Pithawalla, M F

Picture of a Lady, Oil on canvas, 43.2X53.5 cm

Majumdar, H

Toilet, Water olour on paper, 42X52 cm

Majumdar, H

Untitled, Water colour and tempera, 63.5X117 cm

Dhurandhar, M V

Pilgrimage to Pandharpur and Woman, Watercolour, 13.5X17.5 cm

Dhurandhar, M V

Pilgrimage to Pandharpur and Woman, Watercolour, 13.5X17.5 cm

Varma, Raja R

Women holding a Fruit, Oil on canvas, 45X60 cms


A.A. Almelkar

Miniature Painting

Tanjore and Mysore

European Traveller Artists

Company Period

Kalighat Painting

Academic Realism

Bengal School

Amrita Sher-Gil

Jamini Roy

Gaganendranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore


Artists Collectives

Abstraction in Contemporary Indian Art

Art Movements of 1960s

Art Movements in 1970s


Modern Sculptures

Print Making


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