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Lithograph - Terribly Sympathetic
  • Terribly Sympathetic
    Tagore, Gaganendranath, born 1867 - died 1938
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Terribly Sympathetic

  • Object:

    Lithograph

  • Place of origin:

    Bengal (made)

  • Date:

    c.1919 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Tagore, Gaganendranath, born 1867 - died 1938 (Artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Lithograph on paper

  • Museum number:

    IS.77-1979

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

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This is from a collection of 16 lithographs bound in one volume. The lithographs are a series of caricatures of Bengali life, depicting the artist's satirical comments on a range of subjects including the caste system, the hypocrisy of Hindu priests and the double-standards of the affluent western-educated members of society known as the Bhadralok.

Gaganendranath Tagore (1867-1938) was a satirical cartoonist and painter. Born in Calcutta, Gaganendranath grew up in a family whose exceptional creativity spearheaded Calcutta's cultural scene. Gaganendranath was nephew of poet Rabindranath Tagore and brother of Abanindranath Tagore, the pioneer and leading exponent of the Bengal School of Art.

This the only one where the artist touches upon the more violent aspects of colonial India. The lithograph depicts a gigantic and fiendish British politician in evening dress stamps and lashes at tiny fleeing figures of Indians in silhouette. In the background the Vice-Regal Palace designed by Sir Edwin Lutynes is visible.

The cartoon satirized Sir (Joseph) Bampfylde Fuller (1854–1935). In 1905 Lord Curzon partitioned Bengal, separating from Bengal the new province of eastern Bengal and Assam. Fuller, who for a brief period was the officiating chief commissioner of Assam, was a natural choice for the lieutenant-governorship of the new province. In his new office he sought to suppress the anti-partition swadeshi movement. When the anti-partition agitation underwent a shift towards terrorism, Fuller became a target for the revolutionaries, but assassination attempts failed. Fuller retaliated by killing all suspects. A slightly different version of the subject published by O.C. Gangoly seems to be dated May 1919.

Physical description

In this image the artist touches upon the more violent aspects of colonial India. The lithograph depicts a gigantic and fiendish British politician in evening dress stamps and lashes at tiny fleeing figures of Indians in silhouette. In the background the Vice-Regal Palace designed by Sir Edwin Lutynes is visible.

The cartoon satirized Sir (Joseph) Bampfylde Fuller (1854–1935). In 1905 Lord Curzon partitioned Bengal, separating from Bengal the new province of eastern Bengal and Assam. Fuller, who for a brief period was the officiating chief commissioner of Assam, was a natural choice for the lieutenant-governorship of the new province. In his new office he sought to suppress the anti-partition swadeshi movement. When the anti-partition agitation underwent a shift towards terrorism, Fuller became a target for the revolutionaries, but assassination attempts failed. Fuller retaliated by killing all suspects. A slightly different version of the subject published by O.C. Gangoly seems to be dated May 1919.

Place of Origin

Bengal (made)

Date

c.1919 (made)

Artist/maker

Tagore, Gaganendranath, born 1867 - died 1938 (Artist)

Materials and Techniques

Lithograph on paper

Marks and inscriptions

'Pracanda mamata' written in Bengali at the bottom and 'Terribly sympathetic' written in English at the bottom.

Dimensions

Height: 43 cm, Width: 28 cm

Object history note

R.F.79/2006 Purchased from Mr Robert Cran, Gray's Antique Market, London, W1.

Historical context note

Gaganendranath Tagore (1867-1938) was a satirical cartoonist and painter. Born in Calcutta, Gaganendranath grew up in a family whose exceptional creativity spearheaded Calcutta's cultural scene. Gaganendranath was nephew of poet Rabindranath Tagore and brother of Abanindranath Tagore, the pioneer and leading exponent of the Bengal School of Art.

The artist received no formal education but was trained under the British school watercolourist Harinarayan Bandopadhyay. In 1907, he founded the Indian Society of Oriental Art with his brother Abanindranath. Between 1906 and 1910, the artist assimilated the Japanese brush technique and Far Eastern pictorial conventions into his own work (see his illustrations for Rabindranath Tagore's autobiography Jeevansmriti published in 1912.) From 1910 until 1914, Gaganendranath developed his own approach to SUMI-E or black ink (see Chaitanya series and Pilgrim series.) Between 1915 and 1919, the artist, with the help of his brother, set up the Bichitra club in the Tagore family house. The club served as an important social, intellectual and artistic hub of cultural life in Calcutta, where many artists, including Nandalal Bose, A.K. Haldar and Suren Kar worked at their paintings.

During these years, Gaganendranath abandoned the ideological revivalism embraced by the Bengal School of Art and took up caricature to satirize the westernised middle class of urban Bengal. The artist's popularity was secured in 1917 when Modern Review published many of his shrewd cartoons. From 1917 onwards, his lithographs appeared in a series of books, including: Play of Opposites, Realm of the Absurd and Reform Screams. In these mocking pieces, the austerity of Kalighat paintings is wedded to the simplicity of Japanese prints. Between 1920 until 1925, Gaganendranath, informed about modern European art, pioneered experiments in cubism colour and in ink. His work however, was pictorially closer to the dynamism of Italian Futurism rather than the work of Picasso and Braque. From 1925 onwards, the artist developed a complex post-cubist style. Gaganendranath's work has been exhibited internationally.

Descriptive line

Terribly Sympathetic, by Gaganendranath Tagore, lithograph, Calcutta, 1919

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

O. C. Gangoly, The Humorous Art of Gogonendranath Tagore, Birla Academy of Art and Culture, Calcutta, 1973
Dr Ratan Parimoo, The Paintings of the three great Tagores: Abanindranath Tagore, Gaganendranath Tagore and Rabindranath Tagore. Chronology and comparative Studies, 1973
A. Kar, "Gaganendranath Tagore, A Painter of his Time" in LKC 6, 1968, pp. 1-6
M.R. Anand, "Gaganendranath's Realm of the Absurd" in Roopa Lekha, XXXVIII, 1969, pp.168-181
Partha Mitter, "Cartoons of the Raj" in History Today, September 1997, Volume: 47, Issue: 9, pp. 16-21
Nirad C. Chauduri, "The Art of Gaganendranath Tagore" in Puravi: a Miscellany, ed. Andrew Robinson and Krishna Datta, Tagore Centre, London, 1991
Partha Mitter, Art and Nationalism in Colonial India: Occidental Orientations, Cambridge University Press, 1994
T. Guha Thakurta, The Making of a New 'Indian' Art: Artists, Aesthetics and Nationalism in Bengal ca. 1850-1920, Cambridge University Press, 1992

Exhibition History

India Modern (IVAM, Institut Valencia d'Art Modern 11/12/2008-01/02/2009)
Arts of Bengal (Whitechapel Art Gallery 30/12/1979-30/09/2011)

Materials

Paper; Ink

Techniques

Lithograph

Subjects depicted

Politics

Categories

Prints

Collection code

SSEA

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Qr_O106033
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