UPSC Art and Culture Indian Painting

The tradition of painting has remained an integral part of social and cultural practices in India since ancient times. The cave paintings at Ajanta, Ellora and Buddhist periods are a testimony of the fact, that painting was an important form of cultural expression in the Indian subcontinent. 

Characteristics of Indian Painting

  • The Indian Paintings have been heavily influenced by religious texts such as Mahabharata, Ramayana and the life of Buddha etc.
  • The Indian Paintings have remained an integral part of social practices during the festivities and these have evolved as various folk paintings. Over the centuries these practices have evolved and have been passed over generation after generation. Folk paintings such as Madhubani, Phad, Gond etc. have become mainstreamed and are well recognized in national as well as the International stage.
  • The life of rulers remained an important part of court paintings and have also influenced Indian Paintings during the medieval period.
  • The advent of Europen rule brought with it a new style and again influenced Indian Painting and gave birth to a new form of painting called Modern painting.

Indian Painting can be divided into three categories:

  1. Mural/wall Painting
  2. Miniature Painting
  3. Modern Painting

Mural Painting

Mural comes from the Latin word ‘murus’ which means wall. Murals are significant as they bring art into a large public sphere as they are put up on a large wall and hence an effective tool for social emancipation. Also, murals can add to the scenic beauty of a place where they are painted. It started from around the 2nd century BC to 10th century AD. Examples of mural paintings include Jogimara caves, Ajanta caves etc. In India, they are of sheer size, found in Ajanta, Ellora, caves and temple walls etc.

Miniature Painting

Miniatures are the small sized, handmade, very colourful paintings and the main feature of these Miniature paintings include complex and gentle brushwork which provides a unique identity. In the eastern and western India miniature Paintings developed in the 9th to the 11thcentury as a reaction to large scale wall painting. The colours used in Miniature were handmade from vegetables, minerals, stones, indigo etc.

Modern Painting

With the advent of Europeans, modern paintings were established. These paintings are also called Company school as it emerged under the patronage of British East India Company. They are also called a Patna school of Paintings. Main centres of these paintings were– Patna, Murshidabad and other centres were Varanasi, Delhi, and Lucknow etc. The paintings depicted themes of social and general lives of the people- for example, festivals, processions, bazaars, bangle sellers, fish sellers, carpenter etc. There was no royal splendour in the paintings. The paintings were simple in nature without much décor or show off. It had finishing touches. Lifelike representation was made in the paintings. The sketches were light. No background was present in these paintings. For example, the painting of flying bird- the feathers are painted so clearly which shows how deftly the paintings were sketched. Sevak ram, Ishwari Prasad Verma, Raja Ravi Verma, Jamini Roy, Amrita Shergill etc were some of the painters.
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