1. Fill in the blanks:
(a) The art form which observed carefully and tried to capture exactly what the eye saw is called Portrait.
(b) The style of painting which showed Indian landscape as a quaint, unexplored land is called Picturesque.
(c) Paintings which showed the social lives of Europeans in India are called Kalighat paintings.
(d) Paintings which depicted scenes from British imperial history and their victories are called history paintings.
2. Point out which of the following were brought in with British art:
(a) oil painting (b) miniatures (c) life-size portrait
painting (d) use of perspective (e) mural art
Oil painting, life-size portrait painting, use of perspective.
3. 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 Storming of Seringapatam, painted by Rober Kerr Porter. In this painting the British troops are shown storming the fort from all sides, cutting Tipu’s soldiers to pieces, climbing the walls, raising the British flag aloft on the ramparts of Tipu’s fort. It is a painting full of action and energy. The painting dramatises the event and glorifies the British triumph.
4. Why did the scroll painters and potters come to Kalighat? Why did they begin to paint new themes?
The scroll painters (Patuas) and potters ( Kumors) came to Kalighat as the city appeared as a place of opportunity where people could come to make a new living. Village artists too came and settled in the city in the hope of new patrons and new buyers of their art.
After the 1840s, a new trend within the Kalighat artists came. 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.
5. Why can we think of Raja Ravi Varma’s paintings as national?
Raja Ravi Varma was one of the first artists who tried to create a style that was both modern and national. He mastered the Western art of oil painting and real-life study but painted themes from Indian mythology. He dramatised on canvas, scene after scene from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, drawing on the theatrical performances of mythological stories, this depicts that instead when he incorporated western styles, he portrays the Indian concepts on his paintings which reflects his paintings as national.
6. In what way did the British history paintings in India reflect the attitudes of imperial conquerors?
British victories in India served as rich material for history painters in Britain. These painters drew on firsthand sketches and accounts of travellers to depict for the British public a favourable image of British actions in India. These paintings once again celebrated the British: their power, their victories, their supremacy. Imperial history 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.
7. Why do you think some artists wanted to develop a national style of art?
The national movements had started against the British oppression in various parts of the country, during the late 18th century, and to express themselves and their rage for the British the paintings was a very good medium. Some artists believed that 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. In many of them, you see Bharat Mata appearing as a goddess carrying the national flag, or nationalist heroes sacrificing their head to the Mata, and gods and goddesses slaughtering the British which motived the nationalism in people of India
8. Why did some artists produce cheap popular prints? What influence would such prints have had on the minds of people who looked at them?
By the late 19th century, many mechanical printing presses started spurting in many parts of India. This allowed paintings to be produced in large numbers and thus these prints could be sold cheap in the market, due to cheap prices even poor people now could buy them. With the spread of nationalism, popular prints of the early twentieth
century began carrying nationalist messages. In many of them, you see Bharat Mata appearing as a goddess carrying the national flag, or nationalist heroes sacrificing their head to the Mata, and gods and goddesses slaughtering the British. This had induced the feelings of nationalism in people.