Kalighat painting evolved as a unique painting style in the rapidly urbanizing cityscape of 19th-century Kolkata. Reflecting a new language, these paintings recorded the changes in lifestyles, values, and a new visual vocabulary brought forth by lithographic presses and studio photography.
The artists who developed the Kalighat painting style were traditional scroll painters (patuas). In catering to the transient, urban populace, the artists let go on of their linear narrative styles and adopted single pictures with one or two figures. The traditionally inherited techniques and iconography were blended with the use of watercolours and Western academic shading, to show frames of a changing society.
This volume accompanies the touring ‘Kalighat Paintings’ exhibition organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London in collaboration with the Victoria Memorial Hall, Kolkata in late 2011. The V&A, London holds the single largest collection of Kalighat paintings, and this is the first exhibition of the collection in India. Best examples from the collections and contemporary Kalighat paintings are illustrated in this book. Supporting essays reveal the importance of these collections, and also highlight the era in which this painting thrived, and the techniques that were used by the artists.
Suhashini Sinha is Assistant Curator at the V&A, London.
Prof. C. Panda is Secretary and Curator of Victoria Memorial Hall, Kolkata.
With contributions from Piyasi Bharasa, Dr Lucio Burgio, Jyotindra Jain and Mike Wheeler.