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10 Famous Indian Masterpieces of Art We Should Know

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The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls. — Pablo Picasso

A rich and vital work of art appeals to the people who have artistic instincts and the ones who are aesthetes. Not everyone is an admirer of the beauty and wholeness of art. But being Indians, we should appreciate and recognize some famous masterpieces. We are here with the list of ten such iconic works that every Indian should recognize:

1. Bharat Mata by Abanindranath Tagore (1905)

Bharat Mata is a personification of India as a mother goddess dressed in saffron and holdingTiranga in one hand. Abanindranath Tagore portrayed Mother India during the freedom struggle and the painting became a symbol of nationalism. The painting shows Bharat Mata with four hands standing on the green earth with blue sky behind her.

2. Mahishasura by Tyeb Mehta

In Hindu mythology, Mahishasura (buffalo demon) is an Asura who took the field against the Devas and was eventually killed by Goddess Durga. Tyeb Mehta was a cultural hero and his artworks were sold at the highest price in those days. He was awarded Padma Bhushan in 2007. This painting – acrylic on canvas -was done in 1993. Its dimensions are 58 ⅞ x 41 ¼ in. (149.5 x 105 cm.). It showcases the victory of good over evil and was created as a symbol of hope during the time of distress.

3. Bapuji by Nandlal Bose

This iconic work by Nandlal Bose, one of the pioneers of modern Indian art, is an inspirational and powerful image of  Mahatma Gandhi, who was fondly called “Bapu” by all. Bose made the painting in 1930 after Gandhiji was arrested for his non-violent resistance Dandi March to defy a British tax on salt. Gandhiji was a source of motivation for almost everyone and many other artists have also based their work on him. This painting is showcased at the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi.

4. Self-portrait by Amrita Shergill

Born of a Sikh father from an aristocratic family and a Hungarian mother, Amrita Shergil was keen to learn arts since her childhood and she got her first break at the age of 19. During the 1930s, she did a series of paintings in European style and among them was her self-portraits. Her paintings are amongst the most expensive paintings by Indian women painters and hold a place at National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi.

5. Shakuntala by Raja Ravi Varma

Shakuntala is a character in the Hindu epic Mahabaratha, who loved and later married Prince Dushyanta. The painting titled ‘Shakuntala’ is an epic work of celebrated artist Raja Ravi Varma in 1870. The painting depicts Shakuntala taking a glance at Dushyanta, while pretending to remove a thorn from her foot. The painting is a result of complete imagination but the work is done so beautifully with oil colours that it all looks so realistic.

6. Krishna (spring in Kulu) by Nicholas Roerich

Nicholas Roerich was a Russian painter, writer, philosopher, and archaeologist. His paintings leave a hypnotic expression on the viewers. He roamed around the globe and lastly settled and died at Kullu, Himachal Pradesh. His works are considered as national art treasures. In this painting Lord Krishna is sitting under a blossom tree and playing flute with great mountain peaks in the background. This painting is displayed at the Nicholas Roerich Museum in New York.

7. Bindu by S H Raza

One of the most distinguished artists of the Indian subcontinent, Sayed Haider Raza lived worked in France since 1950. He believed that Bindu is a source of energy and life and also life begins and ends here. He focused most of his paintings on Shunya or Bindu. He created “Bindu” in 1980 and expressed his inner experiences in color and space. He received Padma Bhushan in 2007 and Padma Vibhushan in 2013 for his incredible artwork.

8. Three Pujarins by Jamini Roy

Modern master Jamini Roy is best known for combining traditional Indian and Western art styles to create unique, complex works. This work titled Three Pujarins is one of his iconic images and was created in the 1950s. It shows three Bengali women wearing indigo-colored saris to represent the struggle of the peasants in India during the 20th century.

9. Self-portrait by Rabindranath Tagore

One of the most revered poet-philosophers of his time, Rabindranath Tagore was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. He was also a composer and wrote our National Anthem and motivated our country people with his poems, writings, and doodles throughout his life. At the age of 67, he shifted his interest towards painting and started creating universally accessible art. He created thousands of drawings among which his self-portrait was the most popular. The painting depicts his bearded face and the unworked background drawn with pencil lines.

10. Sohni Mahiwal by Sobha Singh

Sardar Sobha Singh was a painter from Punjab, India. His paintings were mostly about the life of Sikh Gurus and their teachings. Sohni Mahiwal is the most famous work ever created by Sobha Singh and it’s undoubtedly the finest among all his work. This painting depicts the classic tale of Sohni Mahiwal in which the two soulmates fall deeply in love with each other.

We hope we didn’t miss out anything. In case we did, please let us know in the comment section below.

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One thought on “10 Famous Indian Masterpieces of Art We Should Know
  1. Rajesh

    Informative and fascinating.

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