One cannot overstate the importance of Jamini Roy’s (1887 – 1972) revolutionary role in the development of modern Indian art from late colonial period to the establishment of India as a nation state in 1947. Along with Amrita Sher-Gil (1913 – 1941) and poet-painter Rabindranath Tagore (1861 – 1941), Roy is considered one of the pioneering artistic leaders symbolizing the creation of a new “national art” for India. Although formally trained in European academic realism, the folk art traditions of his native region of Bengal significantly influenced Roy’s mature painting style. Folk art inspired Roy to forge a powerful weapon of anti-colonial resistance through his art.
The Harn Museum’s collection contains 45 works by Jamini Roy and ranks among the largest public collections of distinguished holdings by the artist outside of India. Inspired by Indian village artisans, Roy often used pigments made from organic matter, including rock-dust, tamarind seeds, and mercury powder, to paint his canvases. Regardless of the nature of these materials, conservation scientists are able to preserve Roy’s works by consolidating lifting and flaking paint, stabilizing the canvas supports, and cleaning using dry methods.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website