Untitled (Jackfruit tree)

1878 - 1945

This post-card work is by Jadupati Basu and is addressed to Nandalal Bose.  Jadupati Basu portrays a close-up detailed painting of a jackfruit tree. The painting references hot weather and summertime, as it shows the fruits on the tree to be plump and ripe.

The tree appears to be in full bloom with leaves, ripened fruits, and even a bird perched on one of the branches. There is a strong and evident reference to nature in all of the three works in this series. Basu’s written words on the rear, translated from Bengali read: “Sri Charanashree Mastermoshai, Here it is very hot. I have not been able to start any work till now. I hope you are all okay. You and bodi (Nandalal’s wife), please accept by Pranam. Also give my namaskar to all others in Shantiniketan.”

Originating in Calcutta and Shantiniketan, the Bengal School of Art promoted a shift in ideologies and art representation, to a more modern and contemporary approach. This initially started throughout India during the British Raj in the early 20th century. Artists of the Bengal School combined art forms like folk art, traditional Indian painting traditions, Hindu religious imagery, and indigenous art forms with contemporary techniques of depiction.

The Bengal School aimed to counteract the tastes of British collectors, who were only interested in collecting Company Paintings (East India Company), by reinventing and bringing back traditional techniques of art making, like the Mughal folio style of painting and the Rajasthani Pahari paintings, which portrayed scenes of traditional Indian life. The founding artists of the Bengal School include: Abanindranath Tagore, his sister Sunayani Devi, Asit Kumar Haldar, Jadu Pal, Bakkeswar Pal, M.A.R Chughtai, and Kshitindranath Majumdar.

Nandalal Bose (1882-1966) a pupil of Abanindranth Tagore, became deeply interested in the wash techniques of Japan and China. During his visit to Japan, he began creating postcards based on landscapes and other visuals he witnessed during his travels. These were personal works which he would send to his friends and family as gifts. As he was the principal of Shantiniketan, this practice was taken up by his students. Personalised postcard art thus became a tradition in Shantiniketan.

To read more about the Bengal School of Art, click here.

Untitled (Jackfruit tree)
1878 - 1945
Bengal School, Kampo Arai, Jadupati Basu
Watercolour on card; ink and wash on card
H: 9 cm x W: 14.5 cm
Accession No.