“Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.”
This is what Oscar Wilde said about portrait paintings.
But, when it comes to self portrait paintings, sitter and the artist are the same. Almost every artist finds it intriguing to be that ‘sitter’ once in a while. This is when self-portraits are born. You will find self-portrait paintings of Indian artists, but not a lot in number. Here is a list of famous self-portrait paintings by Indian artists.
Amrita Shergil is perhaps the greatest woman painter India has ever seen. Although she died at a very young age of 28, she had already made her mark in the books of history. Born in Hungary, her father was a Sikh scholar and mother, an opera singer from Hungary. After spending time in countries outside India, she came back to India by mid 1930s’. This marked a turning point in her career and most of her well-accepted works were completed during this time. The above painting is a self-portrait of Amrita Shergil.
Anyone who follows art in our country can say without much thinking that M.F.Hussain is one of the most successful artists of India. His painting styles are similar to the world famous painter Picasso and that may be the reason he is fondly called as ‘the Picasso of India’! He was involved in lot of controversies during later half of his life. But, it’s his paintings that continue to define his identity even today. M.F.Hussain has a number of self-portraits to his credit. In most of them, he portrayed himself as an artist with a couple of brushes in his hands.
Francis Newton Souza
F.N.Souza had a style of his own when it came to art painting. It was colorful and confusing; but always a delight. He was one of the founding members of the Progressive Artists’ Group. F.N.Souza, for a short time, became the most expensive Indian artist after selling one of his paintings, ‘Birth’ for more than Rs11 crore at Christie’s auction. The self-portrait shown above was also sold at Christie’s auction for more than US$50000.
Raja Ravi Varma
Raja Ravi Varma is the one artist who set new standards for Indian art industry. He is still considered the most important artist of our country and all his works are now a national treasure. His exposure to the western art painting is what changed Indian art painting forever. Ravi Varma infused western techniques of art painting to Indian style. However, he continued to use Indian mythological characters for his paintings. This self-portrait of Raja Ravi Varma is believed to be from the year 1887.
Rabindranath Tagore was a versatile artist. It took him sixty years to realize his artistic abilities as a painter, but it didn’t stop him from creating thousands of aesthetically appealing art paintings. His paintings are also considered a national treasure and you will see most of them at National art galleries and museums. His paintings appear at different auction houses even today and are sold at a sizable sum.
M. V. Dhurandhar
M. V. Dhurandhar was one of the noted artist of India during the British rule. He was a teacher at the J.J.School of art in Maharashtra. Later, he became the headmaster and then vice-principal of that school. Most of his famous works are about women of India and the daily life. His famous works include paintings depicting the city of Mumbai and its people. Dhurandhar also completed many works depicting scenes from Hindu mythologies. This self-portrait of M. V. Dhurandhar was completed in the year 1928.
Fancy, fun and merry: in any Manjit Bawa painting, you could find one of these. He used very bright colors and his characters would appear little bit ‘embossed’. He found inspiration for his paintings from Hindu mythologies and Sufi poetry. However, his way of representing those characters on the canvas was fresh and different. The painting above is a self-portrait of Manjit Bawa, from the year 2004.
Artists find self-portrait paintings as a way of representing themselves on the canvas. For some artists, it is the challenge of making self-portraits that attract them towards it. Whatever the reason is, self-portrait painting is a popular way of establishing presence of an artist and it’s no different with Indian artists.
Now a quick question for you. What do you think of these self-portraits? Which one did you like best? Share your views with us via comments.