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Nandalal Bose - Meet The Modern Indian Artist Who Painted Sati And Gandhi March.

Updated: Nov 9, 2022

A collage of Nandalal Bose's signed photograph and his artwork Sati

Paintings are the most purified semblance of expression, thinking, reality, and interpretation. When it comes to colours, it can create both negative, as well as, positive things. Our society has torments due to numerous degeneracies that will not change overnight. As we bought ourselves to this time, our past has taught us many things. Sati System is a degeneracy that can cause us to exhale the cold breath of despair. According to the Sati system, the woman was let be in flames after her husband's death. Almost the decade had seen these horrifying incidents with their naked eyes, but one such artist who painted it was Nandalal Bose. He was one of the renowned artists from the Indian Freedom struggle who belonged to the modern Indian painters' community and ditched the odds of social evils through his numerous artworks. Commonly called Master Moshai, painted taking inspiration from Ajanta and Bagh caves, hitting the European norms of art.

A Landscape of Ajanta Caves of Maharashtra
Ajanta caves

As a part of the Swadeshi movement, Nandalal Bose used brushes to visualize Ancient India to instill patriotism in India. Surprisingly, these were sold for just 25 Paise (USD 0.003) back. His absolute work is contrasted more with women, rural India, and, mythologies. Today, the world demands sustainable art. Interestingly, at the time of the Fazipur session,1936 his Haripura posters were very well depicting this form. The tents, shelters, pandals, etc were made of bamboo and a remarkable approach of sustainable art.

B&W Picture Of Nandalal Bose With Mahatma Gandhi Showing Haripura Posters
Nandalal Bose With Mahatma Gandhi Showing Haripura Posters At Fazipur Session Of Congress

In contrast, their beauty comes from the fact that they are mixed combinations of elements from different types of Indian art.

Early Life Of Nandalal Bose.

Artist name

Nandalal Bose

Date of birth

3 December 1882

Date of death

16 April 1966


Modern Indian Period


Watercolor, Japanese Wash Technique, and Tempera

Born in 1882 to Kshetramonidevi and Purnachandra Bose, he grew up in a middle-class Bengali family in the British Presidency, at Haveli Kharagpur. He had four brothers and sisters. His father used to work as a manager for the Raja of Darbhanga, while his mother made toys for children as a housewife with a creative side. Her creativity instilled in him a sense of curiosity that grew throughout his life. Sketches of Indian Gods and Goddesses became part of his style, as well as decorations for poojas and pandals. Additionally, he was inspired by his surroundings, who used to be potters.

A black and white picture of modern Indian painter Nandalal Bose
Modern Indian painter Nandalal Bose

He moved to Calcutta when he was 15 to study at Central Collegiate School. In the year of 1903, Nandalal Bose married his mother's friend Sudhuradevi, who was 12 years younger than him. This though didn't affect his marriage, it was a happy one. He wanted to pursue art but his family didn't want the same. After repeated failures in his classes, they finally permitted him to pursue arts. Later, he joined Calcutta's School of Arts.

His Inspiration.

Ajanta Caves murals profoundly influenced his art when he was a young man. Nandalal Bose also became a prominent member of the international circle of artists passionate about bringing back Indian culture. Okakura Kakuzo, William Rothenstein, Yokoyama Taikan, Christiana Herringham, Laurence Binyon, Abanindranath Tagore, and Eric Gill comprised this community.

Nandalal Bose Contributions.

He made contributions at different times during his career. On the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi's arrest in 1930 for Salt Satyagrah, he created an iconic image to represent the nonviolent movement. In black and white, he created a licorice print of him standing in the same position while walking. In addition to these, he drew emblems for government awards such as the Bharat Ratna and the Padma Shree. He was also responsible for embellishing the constitution book with a gold leaf emblem. Haripura posters of famous Congress sessions were also on display.

In the Tagore family, Nandalal Bose studied with Modern Indian Painters - Gaganendranath Tagore and Abanindranath Tagore. A few years later, they founded the Indian Society of Oriental Art with Ananda Coomaraswamy and O C Ganguli. The year 1922 marked his appointment as principal of the Kala Bhavana (College of Arts) at Tagore's International University Santiniketan.

We bought you some of his exquisite artwork or you can say we are providing a brief Nandalal Bose paintings description with this article. Scroll more to learn.

1. Sati Painting- The First Art Ditching Social Evils.

Women are incredible souls made to nourish and love their families and society. She contributes most to every form of her living. Despite all of these, why is her worthiness always compromised? Take an instance from Ramayana, where Sita sacrificed herself for her purity, likewise in Mahabharata, Draupadi was humiliated in the court in front of his husband. These sufferings became worst with time when the Sati system stepped in.

Why did women weren’t given the privilege to live their own life after their husbands passed away? The utterly nonsense and heartbreaking incidents were increasing in past times, till Raja Ram Mohan Roy initiated to stop. Amongst every painter, the only man who painted Sati is our Bose!

The painting is the proclamation of the pain felt by all the women who sacrificed their lives without reason. We hold a tremendous remembrance of the first Sati painting.

With the brilliance of the fire and the deathly black night, the surroundings are delicate and sympathetic. Alongside, the lady with a light-colored saree has adorned herself with the ornaments of dignity. You may see the dark and smooth color tones in the painting by Nandalal Bose. The detail-oriented portrait of someone who is burning alive is tearful and somber.

The Sati Painting by Indian painter Nandalal Bose
Sati Painting by Nandalal Bose

2. Annapurna Painting- The Nourishment Of Everyone.

Food is adorned as a deity in India. The word “Annapurna” halves into two words- “Anna” + “Purna,” which means the supplement of food.

There is an Indian belief that each woman possesses the Annapurna, which can supplement the nutrition needs of everyone. The Annapurna is divine energy that can withstand the hunger of everyone. The painting by our lovable Nandalal Bose depicted the Annapurna on the basis of the Bengal famine of 1943 where 1-3 Million people died due to starvation and disease malaria.

The artistic representation of the pot of rice in Parvati’s hand (Lord Shiva’s wife) here is the remark of abundance and fulfilment. One engrossing story behind the formation of Annapurna lies here. During a dice game between Shiva and Parvati, she won all games. Now Shiva wanted to win at least once to get his lost bowls, serpent back. So, he asked Vishnu for his help in winning everything back. Vishnu’s fallacious advice lets Shiva win the game by creating an illusion. In excitement, Shiva revealed everything to Parvati. In addition to this, he declared the statement that food is too an illusion. When Parvati heard this, she became furious, and so she left mother earth, standing still. In this way, she brought devastation to mother Earth because she was a source of abundance. Due to famines, and havoc on the earth, Shiva finally asked her for forgiveness. And she came back to Kashi(a city in India) with a bowl of food, providing fulfillment and nourishment back to everyone. It taught everyone that food is not an illusion, but a necessity.

The blue color symbolizes Mother Earth, surrounded by a crescent moon and stars behind Parvati. She appears here sitting in a lotus position with four arms, whereas shiva has a depiction in Vairagya Roop on a dance form. The dark orange-red color of the surrounding separates the two deities through a smooth dark contrasting color in this painting with Nandalal Bose.

The artwork of Annapurna by Nandalal Bose
Annapurna Painting by Nandalal Bose

3. Radha’s Varaha- Cultured Stunning Artwork.

The exquisite artwork formed when the Bhakti movement was on the shores of India. Radha is an epic form of love and beauty with her vivid love stories with Krishna. The story of how Radha used to bring realization to her people is an interesting one. On the ghats of the Yamuna river, she used to sit with her friends, soaking her foot in the river. She ultimately circulates her uniform positive energy in the river by her holy feet. When women carried that water, they gained realization. Henceforth, the divine vibrations were everywhere. Through this painting, Nandalal Bose injected modernism into Radha's character. He portrayed her in a peaceful state with her sakhis. The fragrance of flowers astounds the necessity of peacefulness and sleep in our lives. This painting showcase the compositional features of Rajasthani Miniatures.

Radha’s Varaha painting by Nandalal Bose
Radha’s Varaha by Nandalal Bose

4. Gandhi March (Bapuji)- Father Of India Portray.

The world knows Gandhiji for his truthful practices, dharma, and non-violence. In March 1930, due to excessive salt levies for the ordinary people, Gandhi pledged to take satyagraha by walking miles from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi (a village). On reaching the shores of the sea, he broke the salt law by boiling seawater and extracting salt from it. This painting depicts a leader who broke the rules to better the lives of people. Gandhi isn’t a person or character but an emotion of patriotism. As a portrait of the father of India, it carries an emotional effect.

It is the black and white representation of Bapu holding his stick, that symbolizes the dark clouds during the Indian freedom struggle against the British, during which Bapu stood united as an Indian.

A portray of Gandhi March (Bapuji) by Nandalal Bose
Gandhi March (Bapuji) by Nandalal Bose

5. New Clouds- Stupefying Natural Scenic Artwork.

Clouds, commonly known as 'Megha'(in Sanskrit), are an essential part of our lives. As we can see from the painting, the dark clouds and a white woman represent a different perspective. India suffered from famines, troubles, and economic depression during the colonial era. The colonial Indian obstacle represents the dark cloud. The women displayed here might be the mightiest power of the society carrying themselves in white color for peace. The crowd of women might show the togetherness and unity against all of these obstacles. With this artwork by Nandalal Bose, everyone was stunned by the elements of modernism and the Indian art school.

New Clouds artwork by Nandalal Bose
New Clouds by Nandalal Bose

6. Saraswati- Literate Amazing Painting.

Almost everyone agrees that knowledge can avert a depression in the economy and society's evils. Hence, the most dominant weapon of the regular man is the pen he holds in his hand. Devoted knowledge can revolutionize the whole world. This painting is the amorphous beauty that says this aloud through Goddess Saraswati, the Indian Goddess of Knowledge. The veena she is holding carries the message of creativity in artistic expression. It can illustrate a story as well. As a form of opposition to the British abuse of Indian heritage and destruction of the people, enlightened leaders rose. Retaliation was taking the form of magazines, newspapers, hoarders, speeches, paintings, and music. This painting depicts the importance of knowledge for everyone.

Devi is seen in her vivid form with long hair and divine eyes, carrying her instrument, Veena.

She is wearing ornaments and the portrait displays the blooming of flowers behind her. The hue colors are dominating and giving a naturalistic look.

Saraswati by Nandalal Bose
Saraswati by Nandalal Bose

7. Darjeeling and Fog- Stupefying Natural Scenic Artwork.

Mount Kanchenjungha shone against a blue sky while fog hovered over valleys from Darjeeling to Namchi in Sikkim. There is significant geographical importance of Mt Kanchenjunga through which the fog arises. The painting is the true beauty where nature is not bound to anything.

The fog is showcased here in white hazy abstract form with striking corners of the mountains. It looks more like abstract art to me with the constantly changing patterns when gazed for longer period.

Darjeeling and Fog Artwork by Nandalal Bose
Darjeeling and Fog Artwork by Nandalal Bose

8. Flower Gatherer- Nature-Loving Painting.

Nature is a therapy that can fight all the odds of human behavior. In the same way, the painting by none other but Nandalal Bose displays a lady carrying a flower pot in her hands. There is a saying in India, Foolon ko bechne walo k hath Bhi mehkate hai, which means those who sell flowers have their fragrance in their hands. In simple words, when you do good, you get good. This painting is a therapy in itself, carrying this beautiful message inside. The green shade blended with the folks of saffron color saree is a remark of its exceptional beauty. A person can truly enjoy its charm.

Flower Gatherer painting by Nandalal Bose
Flower Gatherer painting by Nandalal Bose

9. Siva Drinking World Poison - Cultured semantic Artwork.

The artwork represents the famous incident from Samudra Manthan. At one time, demons cheated deities for attaining Amrita (the immortal potion). But before its formation, a destruction potion developed known as “vish.” It was harming both the sides, the demons, and the deities. When they asked for help from Brahma, they advised them to ask Shiva. Shiva consumed the whole vish for everyone's safety from the havoc. At the same time, Parvati held his throat so that the vish can’t go into the body and remain in his throat itself.

And this gave Shiva another name, “Neelkantha.”

The painting by Nandalal Bose well displayed the theory of the story from Indian epics.

Siva Drinking World Poison painting by Nandalal Bose
Siva Drinking World Poison painting by Nandalal Bose

10. The Studio of Abanindranath Tagore- Reality.

The painting can be seen in reality as well as in a humorous way. It depicts the critic Ananda Coomaraswamy ( on the couch) that discussed the sketch with Nandalal Bose. We can see here Abanindranath dozing off whereas Satyendranath and Rabindranath reading a book

The Studio of Abanindranath Tagore painting by Nandalal Bose
The Studio of Abanindranath Tagore painting by Nandalal Bose

11. Floating A Canoe.

Canoeing is an adventurous sport where you paddle a canoe in water streams, an ancient mode of transportation. Nandalal Bose had sketched a piece of art displaying two men in the mid of the sea where they are fighting against the waves to survive. They are wearing a loincloth and are displaying great teamwork. There are several emotions and scenes in one sketch. The gigantic waves are horrifying through their heights and dark shades. However, a key takeaway from this painting can be its clear visualization. It can be commonly termed ink on paper art which is a monochrome version of 'touch-work'. In contrast to the codes and conventions governing earlier, the suggestive richness of touch-indicating light, shapes, space, and tactility with the slightest nuances of tone and stroke is shown here.

Floating A Canoe by Nandalal Bose
Floating A Canoe by Nandalal Bose

12. The Golden Pitcher or Sarna Kumbha.

A single-figure panel painting of the Golden Pitcher, Swarna-Kumbha, recalls the conventions of Egyptian art. A theme running through these is the search for a personal pattern of the decoration with resonances that can reconcile the various antecedents without incongruence. The sharp features of the lady who is decorated with gold jewelry are mesmerizing. She is holding a golden pitcher here. The effective color contrasts are just amazing and make it even more beautiful. The blue-colored upper garment is well combined with the golden bottom wear.

The Golden Pitcher or Sarna Kumbha by Nandalal Bose
The Golden Pitcher or Sarna Kumbha by Nandalal Bose

13. Rati With Her Bow.

Rati is the Hindu Goddess of love, sensibility, carnal desires, lust, passion, and sexual desires and the wife of Kamasutra. She was known for her beauty and sensibility in Hindu scriptures. The painting by Nandalal Bose is depicting the simplicity in appearance and the invoking folk painting here. It is a part of Haripura posters that was originally done to decorate a temporary township for the INC session in the early 1938s.

Rati With Her Bow Artwork by Nandalal Bose
Rati With Her Bow Artwork by Nandalal Bose

14. Shiva Carrying the Corpse of Sati on His Trident.

Devi Sati or Adi Shakti, the Hindu goddess of longevity is the first consort to Lord Shiva. She is known to be extremely fiery and frightening temper but benevolent and caring at the same time. It is believed that she was called to Yagya by her father but he humiliated Shiva the God. And since she was madly in love with him, she could not tolerate the belittled by his own father about her husband and so she sacrificed herself in the fire. Shiva when heard about this was broken and took the corpse of Sati in her hands. Further to break the despair of Shiva, her body pieces fell on 51 places known as Shakti pithas. This painting by Nandalal Bose belongs to this story.