Nandalal Bose was a remarkable painter of Bengal school of art. He was mentored by both Abanindranath Tagore and Havell. His artistic capabilities are echoed by his oeuvre. His works beautifully represented his nationalistic impulses. Many critics consider his artistic works among India's finest modern paintings. Along with his favorite students (Beohar Rammanohar Sinha and others), he took-up the momentous task of beautifying the original manuscript of the Constitution of India.
In 1976, the Archaeological Survey of India, Department of Culture, Government of India acknowledged his works among the nine artists, whose work not being antiquities, were hence forth to be considered as art treasures. He played an important role in the renaissance of art in India along with his co painters. Achievements of Nandalal Bose have made him shine like a star among the most notable Indian painters.
Nandalal was born in Kharagpur in Monghyr district of Bihar on 3rd December, 1883. His father was the manager of Kharagpur Tahsil of Raja of Darbhanga. His mother died when he was eight years of age but she influenced him strongly all through his life.
When Nadalal Bose’s primary education in Bihar was completed, he was sent to Calcutta for higher studies. He was not cut out for conventional academia. This fact was fairly obvious from his fruitless brush with higher education. He was convinced by his stretch with academics that there is just one thing in life for him and it was Art.
Nandalal Bose was deeply influenced by the murals of Ajanta as a young artist. He was among those artists who desired the revival of classical Indian culture. He fashioned a black on white linocut print of Gandhi walking with a staff to mark the 1930 event of Gandhi's arrest for protesting against the British salt tax. Jawaharlal Nehru asked him to sketch the emblems for the Government of India’s awards, including the Padmashri and the Bharat Ratna. His brilliance and original style were acknowledged by well-known artists and art critics like Ananda Coomaraswamy, Gaganendranath Tagore and O.C.Ganguli. These art lovers felt that objective criticism was essential for the growth of painting and laid the foundation of the Indian Society of Oriental Art.
In 1922 he was appointed as the principal of the Kala Bhavana (College of Arts) at Tagore's International University Santiniketan.
Nanadalal’s inventiveness spoke several languages. It was a merge of India’s arty traditions and scores of contemporary styles. His simplistic soulful expressions had a complexity by the Sino Japanese influence.
It is difficult to categorize his opus under any specific school. His project on Ajanta frescos depicted his intrinsic ability to deal with lines and held a tone of classicism. Flat spaces in Mughal and Rajasthani paintings find their approach into his work in Kala Bhavan of his career.
There is a distinctive post-impressionist air in Sabari Paintings. The Chaitanya series and Haripura-Posters were a superb sonnet to the Bengali Folk tradition.
His classic works comprise paintings of scenes from Indian village life, Indian mythologies and women. Nandalal used to make use of an array of materials and subjects, especially subjects selected from Mahabharata, Ramayana, Hindu mythologies, Lord Budhha’s life, Budhhist Jataka and also from human life and nature. His famous paintings include Sati, Swayamvara of Damayanthi, Agni, New Clouds and The Sacrifice of Gandhari.
In 1954, Nandalal Bose was honored with the title award of Padma Vibhushan. A prize of Rs. 500 was awarded to him at the first art exhibition organized in 1908 for his painting Shiva-Sati. He received a silver medal in Allahabad Painting Exhibition and gold medal in Lucknow Exhibition. In 1956, he was the second artist to be chosen Fellow of the Lalit Kala Akademi, India's National Academy of Art. Numerous universities bestowed honorary Doctorates on him. Vishvabharati University honored him the title of Deshikottama. The Academy of Fine Arts, Calcutta bequeathed him with the Silver Jubilee Medal. He also received the Tagore Birth Centenary Medal in 1965 by the Asiatic Society of Bengal.
His discoveries and experiences presented India with the modern face of art. At the same time, he kept the instinctive, aboriginal roots together. He was the first Indian artist to react meaningfully to the various linguistic facets of the Indian art tradition. He breathed his last at the age of 83 in 1966 but his works are still breathing in his memory.