The Changing World of Visual Arts - Class VIII

Q. How did some European artists start painting in India?

Ans: From the eighteenth century a stream of European artists came to India along with the British traders and rulers. The artists brought with them new styles and new conventions of painting. They began producing pictures which became widely popular in Europe and helped shape Western perceptions of India.
Q. Discuss the role of Thomas Daniell and William Daniell for spreading painting in India.
Ans: One popular imperial tradition was that of picturesque landscape painting.  Thomas Daniell and his nephew William Daniell were the most famous of the artists who painted within this tradition. They came to India in 1785 and stayed for seven years, journeying from Calcutta to northern and southern India. They produced some of the most evocative picturesque landscapes of Britain’s newly conquered territories in India.
Q. Who was Johann Zoffany and why did he become more popular in mid-1780s?
Ans: Portrait painting became popular in mid-1780s and many European portrait painters came to India in search of profitable commissions. One of the most famous of the visiting European painters was Johann Zoffany.
Zoffany was very popular for his painting. Because, in his portrait painting the British were shown as superior and imperious and Indians were never at the centre of such paintings; they usually occupy a shadowy background. This is why many British rulers gave importance to Johann Zoffany.
Q. What happened to the court artists?
Ans: At first the court artists were painted for their nawabs. But, In the court of Murshidabad we see a different trend.
  1. After defeating Sirajuddaulah the British had successfully installed their power. The court at Murshidabad encouraged local miniature artists to absorb the tastes and artistic styles of the British.
  2. Local miniature artists at Murshidabad began adopting elements of European realism. They use perspective or they use light and shade to make the figures look life like and real.
  3. With the establishment of British power many of the local courts lost their influence and wealth.
  4. They could no longer support painters and pay them to paint for the court. Many of them turned to the British and started painting as they demands.
  5. As their previous paintings were eagerly collected by the East India Company officials, came to be known as Company paintings.
Q. Why the Kalighat painters were more important?
Ans:  In the 19th century, on shifting to Kalighat, painters continued to paint these religious images. Traditionally, the figures in scroll paintings looked flat, not rounded. Now Kalighat painters began to use shading to give them a rounded form, to make the images look three-dimensional. Yet the images were not realistic and lifelike. In fact, what is specially to be noted in these early Kalighat paintings is the use of a bold, deliberately non-realistic style, where the figures emerge large and powerful, with a minimum of lines, detail and colours.

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