Travelling, Painting, Posting

1. Rajmahal, 5 November 1928

2. Rajagriha, 9 January 1940

3. Sudamapuri or Porbandar, 1 November 1940

The postcards in this collection chronologically lay out Nandalal Bose’s artistic career, from 1918-19, when he was still based in Calcutta and was teaching at the Bichitra Club and Indian Society of Oriental Art at Jorasanko, through the years he built up the institution of Kala Bhavan at Santiniketan, from the 1920s to the 1940s. The selection of exhibits in this section allows us to map his travels across India and beyond, and track the visual records he keeps of places, through impressions of landscapes, people, animals and art motifs he puts out in these postcards.

These postcard sketches mark several locations of his travels, signposting some of his landmark art tours and art commissions of this period – the Bagh caves (1921); Haveli, Kharagpur (1923); Monghyr (1927); Kalimpong and Kurseong (1927-28); Rajmahal (1928); Colombo (1934); the Congress camp at Faizpur and Haripura, in Gujarat (1937-38); Vithalnagar and Baroda (1938-39), where Nandalal was working on a commissioned mural at Kirti Mandir, Baroda; Dwarika, Kathiawad and Porbandar (1940); Sasaram, Nalanda and Rajagriha (1941); the Taj Mahal, Agra (1941); the sea beach at Puri (1941); and the route to the Mayawati Ashram at Almora (1942).

There are other postcards with only writing (now barely legible) and the occasional drawing embedded in the text, which talk of important travels of his career, as for instance, his China and Japan tour with Rabindranath Tagore of 1924. It is with these postcards that we see how Nandalal, like many other artists of his fold, made travelling and sketching a way of life and a way of knowing India, making this practice a prime source of their artistic inspiration.