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Rabindranath Tagore

 (1861 - 1941)
Rabindranath Tagore was active/lived in India.  Rabindranath Tagore is known for painting.

Rabindranath Tagore

Biography from Bonhams Bond Street

Rabindranath Tagore, the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913, was a renowned poet and artist.  In retaliation to the conventional educational establishments in Bengal, Rabindranath Tagore founded an Ashram in Santiniketan in 1901.  Its core principles was to develop an anti-colonial artistic and literary aesthetic connected to India's heritage.  His aim was to create a dynamic and fluid learning environment removed from the parrot learning by wrote styles favoured elsewhere.

Tagore's elite status served to attract rising artists to Santiniketan and its avant-garde teaching style created a distinctive type of schooling.  A well known associate of Rabindranath's nephew, Abanindranath Tagore, Nandalal Bose was chosen by Rabindranath to direct the aesthetic side of his educational program at Santiniketan.  Abanindranath Tagore established a separate movement in Calcutta, which looked to Mughal miniature painting style for inspiration.  Rabindranath's intellectual retreat, under the leadership of Nandalal Bose, focused instead on folk traditions of traveling minstrels or patuas, sculpture and Kalighat temple paintings.

The Ashram was host to a number of Chinese and Japanese artists and in 1924 Nandalal Bose accompanied Rabindranath to Japan.  Influenced by Japanese ink technique and brushwork the school developed a pan Asian identity.  These two works come from the collection of L.T.P. Manjusri.  Manjusri was a founder of the 43 Group of artists in Colombo, Sri Lanka.  Originally a Buddhist monk, Manjusri initially went to Santiniketan to study Chinese.  It was here that he was influenced by Bose and other artists.  His relationship with Nandalal Bose is well documented.  Postcards and sketches by Bose are shown from Manjusri's time at Santiniketan.

Manjusri is remembered for his meticulous work in the documentation and preservation of temple murals.  He would spend weeks in temples in order to reproduce the frescoes in colour and he returned to Santiniketan with copies of seven murals.   Tagore, who had taken up painting at the age of 68, was having an exhibition of his work at the school.  Upon seeing Manjusri's reproductions, Tagore insisted that one side of the exhibition room be reserved to display these temple murals.  Manjusri returned to Sri Lanka in 1949 and continued the rest of his life as a painter and collector.  It is from his esteemed collection that we bring you two exceptional works by the great Rabindranath Tagore.

Biography from Sotheby's New York
Rabindranath Tagore's self-portraits first appeared in 1932.  The artist's approach to the depiction of himself is discussed by Ratan Parimoo, who identifies a number of drawings based on well-known photographs of Tagore.  Parimoo raises the question as to whether Tagore was 'fascinated by his own face as an interesting model or is he obsessed with his own self?' (ibid, p. 487)  He concludes that the self-portraits represent his own Jibandebata, his creative self.

"If among the innumerable objects in this world there be a few that come under the full illumination of our soul and thus assume reality for us, they constantly cry to our creative mind for a permanent representation.  They belong to the same domain as the desire of ours which represents the longing for the permanence of our own self." (Rabindranath Tagore, The Religion of an Artist, 1933).

Tagore's self-portraits 'have a prophet-like serenity as well as an inner anguish.' (R. Parimoo, Art of Three Tagores, From Revival to Modernity, Kumar Gallery, New Delhi, 2011,  p.488)  Not too many of his self-portraits exist, making these works very rare and special.

R. Parimoo, Art of Three Tagores, From Revival to Modernity, Kumar Gallery, New Delhi, 2011, p. 485

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About  Rabindranath Tagore

Born:  1861
Died:   1941
Known for:  painting