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Sita

  • Object:

    Painting

  • Place of origin:

    Kolkata (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1940 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Roy, Jamini Mr, born 1887 - died 1972 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted in opaque watercolour on cardboard

  • Museum number:

    IS.49-1979

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Jamini Roy (1887-1972) was one of the most important artists of the modern period in India, drawing on the popular and folk traditions of rural Bengal for his inspiration. He developed his own personal style which was characterised by bold lines and flat use of colour.

This image depicts a scene from the epic Hindu mythological poem, the Ramayana. Sita proves her innocence by undergoing a fire-ordeal. She is pictured sitting on a burning pyre amid fierce flames. The fire is stylised into sharp-edged flames. Her performance is witnessed by several onlookers including King Rama, Lakshman, two warriors and two monkeys. All the figures, have very large eyes, a characteristic feature of Jamini Roy's work. Jamini was a supporter of the Indian independence movement and his search for an authentic modern India was a response to this. Part of his search involved the restoration of the collaborative indigenous artisanal labour model. Thus, in his workshop he produced a range of stock motifs which his apprentices then copied, all of which were signed with his name. This work is believed to have been produced by his workshop.

Physical description

Painted in opaque watercolour on cardboard, this work represents an instance of the artist's exploration of Hindu mythological themes. This painting depicts a scene from the Hindu epic poem, the Ramayana. Sita proves her innocence by undergoing a fire-ordeal. She is pictured sitting on a burning pyre amid fierce flames. The fire is stylised into sharp-edged flames. Her performance is witnessed by several onlookers including King Rama, Lakshman, two warriors and two monkeys. All the figures, have very large eyes, a characteristic feature of Jamini Roy's work.

Jamini was a supporter of the Indian independence movement and his search for an authentic modern India was a response to this. Part of his search involved the restoration of the collaborative indigenous artisanal labour model. Thus, in his workshop he produced a range of stock motifs which his apprentices then copied- all were signed with his name. This painting is believed to be by his workshop.

Place of Origin

Kolkata (made)

Date

ca. 1940 (made)

Artist/maker

Roy, Jamini Mr, born 1887 - died 1972 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Painted in opaque watercolour on cardboard

Marks and inscriptions

Signature in Hindi on right hand side.

Dimensions

Height: 36.9 cm, Width: 43.8 cm, Height: 43.8 cm Conservation paper upon which card is mounted, Width: 53.1 cm Conservation paper upon which card is mounted

Object history note

Given by Mr. J.C. Irwin in 1979. Rf: 79/1371

Historical context note

Jamini Roy (1887-1972) was one of the most important artists of the modern period in India, drawing on the popular and folk traditions of rural Bengal for his inspiration. Born in Beliator, a village in the Bankura district of Bengal, Jamini was raised in a family of small landowners.

In 1906 he entered the Calcutta School of Art and studied under Abanindranath Tagore, the pioneer and leading exponent of the Bengal School of Art. Abanindranath's tutorage secured Jamini's dexterity both in European and indigenous painting traditions. For a short period Jamini became a portrait painter, a skill for which he was highly regarded in Calcutta. He then experimented with Impressionistic landscapes before rejecting his European training in favour of indigenous art forms.

Initially Jamini adopted the Kalighat style of painting, a popular art form with origins in the rural traditions of Bengal, but found thriving in the back streets of Calcutta. However by the 1920s, Jamini felt that Kalighat paintings had lost their rural ideal having being adapted too much to fit the requirements of their new urban environment. Jamini sought to define an authentic modern Indian art; he therefore travelled through Bengali countryside studying folk painting traditions. He developed his own personal style which was characterised by bold lines and flat use of colour. He used indigenous materials, including lamp black for the outline drawing, 7 basic colours (Indian red, yellow ochre, cadmium green, vermilion, grey, blue and white), which he applied with organic tempera, earth and mineral pigments to homemade canvas spun with fabric. His paintings can be divided into three main themes: the everyday life of rural Bengal, particularly the women of the aboriginal Santhal community, Hindu mythological subjects and Christian imagery.

Jamini was a supporter of the Indian independence movement and his search for an authentic modern India was a response to this. Part of his search involved the restoration of the collaborative indigenous artisanal labour model. Thus, in his workshop he produced a range of stock motifs which his apprentices then copied- all were signed with his name. This increased the production and dissemination of original works which were then affordable to a wider body of people, not just the rich. Jamini gained an international reputation during the 1940s; his work was exhibited in London in 1946 and in New York in 1953.

Descriptive line

Painting, Sita in flames, by Jamini Roy or a member of his workshop, painting, opaque watercolour on cardboard, Kolkata, ca. 1940

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

Partha Mitter, The Triumph of Modernism India' artists and the avant-garde 1922-1947, London, 2007
W.G.Archer, India and Modern Art, London, 1959
p. 138, cat. no. 72
McGill, Forrest; The Rama Epic; Hero, Heroine, Ally, Foe, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, 2016

Materials

Opaque watercolour; Cardboard; Paint

Techniques

Painted

Subjects depicted

Monkeys; Warriors; Deity; Fire; King

Categories

Paintings; Hinduism; Hinduism; Myths & Legends; Bonita Trust Indian Paintings Cataloguing Project

Collection

South & South East Asia Collection

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