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    Dr. Shashi BalaCurator011-23071005
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    The Director,
    National Gallery of Modern Art,
    Ministry of Culture, Government of India
    Jaipur House, Sher Shah Road
    New Delhi 110003
    Telephone Number : 011-23386111

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    Virtual Galleries - Company Period

    Paintings of Company School
    The eighteenth and nineteenth century India witnessed a new genre of painting popularly known as ‘Company School’. It was so named because it emerged primarily under the patronage of the British East India Company. The officials of the Company were interested in paintings that could capture the “picturesque” and the “exotic” aspect of the land, besides recording the variety in the Indian way of life which they encountered. Indian artists of that time, with declining traditional patronage, fulfilled the growing demand for paintings of flora and fauna, landscapes, historical monuments, durbar scenes, images of native rulers, trades and occupations, festivals, ceremonies, dance, music as well as portraits.

    The Company School paintings display an amalgam of naturalistic representation and the lingering nostalgia for the intimacy and stylization of medieval Indian miniatures. It is this intermingling that makes the Company school so unique even though the paintings neither had the accuracy of the photograph nor the freedom of the miniatures. The artists of this School modified their technique to cater to the British taste for academic realism which required the incorporation of Western academic principles of art such as a close representation of visual reality, perspective, volume and shading. The artists also changed their medium and now began to paint with watercolour (instead of gouache) and also used pencil or sepia wash on European paper.

    ‘Company Paintings’ were first produced in Madras Presidency in South India. This new style of painting soon disseminated to other parts of India such as Calcutta, Murshidabad, Patna, Benares, Lucknow, Agra, Delhi Punjab and centres in Western India. The introduction of photography in 1840, however, brought about a new dimension to painting. Now the emphasis came on producing works which could capture “objective reality”.

     

     

     

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