Painted Postcards from a Bygone Era

Painted Postcards from a Bygone Era
Representative Image: Contemporary Indian postcards, Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Do not miss this exhibition if you are curious to know what today’s popular destinations looked like in the early 20th century

OT Staff
January 27 , 2021
04 Min Read

If you have missed the unique online exhibition titled ‘The Art of the Painted Postcard: Nandalal Bose and His Contemporaries,’ here is your chance to see it. Hosts Jadunath Bhavan Museum and Resource Centre (JBMRC) has not only extended the last date of the exhibition to January 31 but also expanded it with another titled ‘Letters to Nandalal’.

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Nandalal Bose (1882-1966), one of the pioneers of modern Indian art, was not only a master artist but also known known to have illustrated the Indian Constitution (along with Beohar Rammanohar Sinha) and sketched the Bharat Ratna and the Padmashri awards. In 1930, during the Dandi March movement, he made a linocut print of Mahatma Gandhi with his staff, which later became one of the most popular icons of the great man. Bose is one of the nine artists whose works were declared "not being antiquities, to be art treasures, having regard to their artistic and aesthetic value," by the Department of Culture of the Archaeological Survey of India in 1976 and 1979.

Kolkata-based JBMRC is holding an online exhibition of Bose’s hand painted postcards in collaboration with Victoria Memorial Hall (VMH) and DAG Museums. The postcards, mostly written to close friend, Ramesh Charan Basu Majumdar between 1918 and 1946, were gifted to JBMRC by Basu Majumdar’s granddaughter. Along with this, there is also a small selection of painted postcards written to or by Bose’s contemporaries, Abanindranath Tagore, Asit Haldar and Jamini Roy, from the collections of DAG and VMH.

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According to lead curator Tapati Guha-Thakurta, the postcards take viewers through the most important years of Nandalal Bose’s artistic career and travels across India and abroad. In her introduction to the exhibition, she writes, “By bringing together this genre of postcards from these institutional collections, this exhibition is an invitation to reflect, both, on the kind of art form that these postcards constitute, and on the snippets of art historical and professional exchanges that emerge from these letters and the locations from which they were sent.”

Recently, the organisers added a new section ‘Letters to Nandalal’. According to the organisers, this section ‘was conceived as a conversation between the students of Kala Bhavana (Viswa Bharati, Shantiniketan) and Nandalal's postcards in the exhibition’. Bose, who was a student of legendary artist Abanindranath Tagore, was the principal of Kala Bhavana in 1922. 

Curated by Sanchayan Ghosh and Arpan Mukherjee, 'Letters to Nandalal' exhibition is the students’ response to the individual postcards in the form of hand-drawn images or writing.

The online exhibition has been extended to January 31, 2021.

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