When we are talking about famous paintings of India, there are a few special pieces that have transcended time and culture to stake their rightful place in Art History. These paintings are famous not only because they are beautiful, but because they carry a story with every brushstroke and each drop of color. 

Besides foreign Indian artists also have created some unique and beautiful works of art that have taken the world by storm.

Now I will tell you about 10 famous paintings of India.

1. Self Portrait – Amrita Sher-Gil

Indian famous painting, self portrait by Amrita Sher Gil
self portrait” by Amrita Sher Gil

Artist Amrita Sher Gil made this painting in 1933. It is an oil painting and also first painting by the artist ever to be offered in Christie’s London, and one of only eight canvases by Sher-Gil to be offered at auction globally.  She was one of the most important modern artists at the age of 18 only. Amrita Sher Gil’s works are considered as famous paintings of India.

It was December in 1976 when India declared her a national treasure with regard to her ‘artistic and aesthetic value’ and prohibited the exportation of her paintings outside the country.

She did not only play a crucial role in the articulation of twentieth-century Indian art and was a seminal influence on generations of Indian artists, but she also discovered a new form of Indian modernism.

She was half-Hungarian like her Mexican peer Frida Kahlo( a famous artist) .

2. Shakuntala – Raja Ravi Verma

shakuntala by raja ravi verma
Shakuntala” by Raja Ravi Verma

Shakuntala is a famous epic painting by celebrated Indian painter, Raja Ravi Varma. This is an oil painting and created in 1870.

In this Indian painting The Artist, Ravi Varma, depicts Shakuntala, an important character of Mahabaratha, pretending to remove a thorn from her foot, while actually looking for her husband/lover, Dushyantha, while her friends call her bluff. 

3. Bapuji – Nandlal Bose

Dandi March,Famous Indian Painting
Dandi March

Artist, Nandalal Bose had a good relationship with Mahatma Gandhi and often shared many of his ideals. Mahatma Gandhi was one of the greatest freedom fighters. He also was an inspiration for many contemporary artists.

This painting is a linocut portrait and created in 1930 by Nandalal Bose.

This black-and-white painting depicts Gandhi’s 240 miles, Dandi march, taken out to defy a British tax on salt-giving an image to one of the most iconic acts of the Indian freedom movement.

4. Bharat Mata – Abanindranath Tagore

Bharat Mata by Abanindranath Tagore
Bharat Mata

Bharat Mata (4th famous paintings of India) is one of the most iconic paintings of Abanindranath Tagore. The artist created this painting in 1905. He was the first major exponent of Swadeshi values in Indian art, and the founder of the Bengal School of Art.

It is one of the landmark paintings of the Bengal school.

Bharat Mata depicts a saffron-clad young woman, dressed like a sadhvi, holding a book, sheaves of paddy, a piece of white cloth, and a mala in her four hands.

This painting became immensely popular among the nationalists in those days, especially in the wake of Lord Curzon’s plan to bifurcate Bengal.

According to an art historian, this painting has immense importance because of its emotional and historical value.

It is said that the painting created the appeal of a mother who needed to be protected by her children.

5. Mahishasura – Tyeb Mehta

Mahishasura by Tyeb Mehta
Mahishasura by Tyeb Mehta

This is the most important creation by India’s finest contemporary artist, Tyeb Mehta.  This painting, Mahishasura – a reinterpretation of the tale of the demon by the same name. That was the first Indian painting that was sold for $1.584 million at Christie’s in 2005. 

When  Tyeb Mehta visited Shantiniketan then he was inspired by the legend of Mahishasura. Being heavily inspired by ancient mythology and Hindu literature, he created this painting in 1994. It is an acrylic painting on canvas.

Mehta created this painting with a fusion of ancient imagery with the simplicity of form, color, and line, resulting in a powerfully modern work full of fresh vitality.

This painting, Mahishasura recounts the legend whereby the Brahmin Demon-King Rambha produces an invincible son through his union with a she-buffalo.

A famous artist Pablo Picasso also inspired by the bull and also depicted a mythological creature, called Minotaur, half-bull and half-human, a monster, in his world-famous painting, Guernica. It is said that Picasso and Mehta had similarities in their works such as Minimalism, Abstraction, and Cubism.

6. Self-Portrait – Rabindranath Tagore

Self-Portrait by Rabindranath Tagore
Self-Portrait by Rabindranath Tagore

We all know about Rabindranath Tagore .Right?

Artist Rabindranath Tagore was a Bengali polymath, being a poet, playwright, novelist, composer, and visual artist. His work reshaped Bengali literature and music during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He got the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913.

Rabindranath Tagore started painting in 1924 when he was 63years old, though long before this, an element of effort could be noticed in the various corrections and doodles in his manuscripts.

He made a huge amount of sketches and drawings by using brush, pen and pencils. His self-portrait is the most famous painting among those thousand of sketches.

This painting depicts the artist’s full-face, self-portrait of the bearded artist. The unworked background of this painting and the enhanced contour push the figure out from the ground. The ultimate flatness of the figure is enhanced by the lack of colour and the use of primitive-looking pencil lines.

7. Three Pujarins – Jamini Roy

Three Pujarins

Jamini Roy was a Bengali, Indian famous painter. He was one of the major artists in 20th-century Indian art history. It is believed that he was one of the earliest and significant modernists in Indian art.

He was considered the first Indian artist whose work was both quintessentially Indian and modern.

Jamini Roy created a masterpiece when he painted three almond-eyed priestesses for his work named Three Pujarins.

Three Pujarins depicts three women in a very mature style as they worship. It was painted with thick, black contour lines with the application of the blue color of the drape done flatly.

 He was inspired by the folk art tradition of Bengal. Jamini Roy experimented with vibrant colors and developed his own individual unique style of painting.

8. Horses – M F Husain

Horses by M F Husain
Horses” by M F Husain

Maqbool Fida Husain, one of India’s most prolific painters, was one of the most celebrated and internationally recognized Indian artists of the 20th century. He was one of the founding members of the Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group. He got Padma Bhushan in 1973 and Padma Vibhushan in 1991.

 The artist, M F Husain enjoyed depicting the lively and free spirit of horses in many of his works.

In this painting, the artist depicts the power and energy of three horses through bold outlines that define the strong beasts in full gallop.

This painting was placed on auction at Christie’s in 2008 and fetched over INR 1 crore.

9. Bindu – S H Raza

Bindu by S H Raza
Bindu by S H Raza

S H Raza was a legendary modern artist who popularised Indian iconography globally. Syed Haider Raza, better known as S H Razanever tired of the bindu or the shunya that became the focal point of energy in his work.

 His first solo exhibition was in the year 1946. Raza’s art developed continuously throughout his long career. But by the ’70s,

when he found the motif , the bindu ,that made him a legend.

Raza told that “Bindu is a source of energy, source of life.

10. Glow of Hope – S L Haldankar

Glow of Hope by S L Haldankar
Glow of Hope

A long ago, a young, demure girl posed for three hours with a lamp in her hand. This girl was none other than the Artist’s daughter.

She stood still withholding the lamp for a work of art being created by her father S L Haldankar.

This is a watercolor masterpiece and popularly known as Lady with the Lamp or Glow of Hope.

 This painting has been a star attraction in the Sri Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery in Jaganmohan Palace in Mysore for nearly 60 years now.  The sensitive, simple, soft, and subtle colours used as well as the ethereal depiction of the light reflecting from the fingers, has made this painting a highly-regarded work which is renowned worldwide.

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