Sangeet Shyamala‘a Surrendra Paul Art Gallery presents Mythological Oil Paintings: 19th & Early 20th Century of Bengal, an exhibition of 19th-century and early 20th-century paintings on Hindu mythology at the time of European settlement in Bengal. On the bank of the Hooghly river, there were settlements of five European communities or colonies such as—British colonies, French colonies, Danish colonies, Dutch colonies and last but not the least Portuguese colonies. They formed their colonies mostly for training purposes. Through exposure to their artistic knowledge and practice native artists learnt how to use oil colours, and how to paint on canvases instead of small paper miniature works. European artists mainly got commissioned for work from the wealthy European or native merchants and zamindars. Even though they were mainly doing portrait paintings ,they were also adopting new subjects.
In the present day, those paintings are known as “Early Bengal Oil or Dutch Bengal Paintings”, popularly known as “Dutch Bengal”. From the 19th Century formal education of Art started officially in Calcutta. Native artists trained in European style and later on practiced their own traditional subjects of Gods and Goddesses as also portraits of personalities.
This exhibition showcases artworks from the late 19th century till the early 20th century. Through this exhibition, one is able to observe and appreciate the artistic practice of the early paintings in the genre of oil painting in India and the historical panorama of the Indian Art Movement.