Kalighat Paintings: The history, themes and styles

The Kalighat painting
The Kalighat painting

The Kalighat painting is a style of Indian painting, which developed in the 19th century in the Bengal region, India. The paintings were developed in response to the western educational system, which was introduced in Bengal during the British colonial rule. The Kalighat paintings are characterized by their ornate and colorful style, which is a fusion of the traditional Indian and Western influences. The history of the Kalighat paintings can be traced back to the 18th century, when the British colonial rule began in Bengal. The British introduced the western education system in Bengal, which resulted in the rise of the middle class. This new class of people was exposed to the western culture and art, which influenced their own art and culture. In response to this western influence, the artists of Bengal developed their own distinct style of painting, which came to be known as the Kalighat paintings. The Kalighat paintings are named after the Kali temple in Kolkata, India, where these paintings were first created. The temple is one of the most popular pilgrimage sites for Hindus in India, and it is also known for its large collection of old and rare paintings. The first recorded instance of a Kalighat painting dates back to 1827, when an English traveler saw a painting at the Kali temple and took it back with him to England. The Kalighat paintings are unique for their use of bold colors and simple lines. They often depict scenes from Hindu mythology.

Kalighat paintings are Indian folk paintings from the 19th century, based on Kalighat, a Hindu temple in Kolkata, West Bengal. The style is characterized by its colorful and flat portrayal of Hindu deities and scenes from religious texts. The history of Kalighat painting is closely linked to the history of the Kalighat temple, which was built in 1809. The temple quickly became a center of pilgrimage for Hindus, and as it grew in popularity, so did the number of artists flocking to the area to sell their wares. Among these artists were a number who specialized in painting images of the deities worshipped at the temple. It is these artists who are credited with creating the distinctive Kalighat painting style. The themes of Kalighat paintings are primarily religious, drawn from Hindu mythology and the sacred texts known as the Puranas. Common subjects include scenes from the life of Krishna, depictions of the goddess Kali, and scenes from the Mahabharata epic. Kalighat painters typically worked in gouache, an opaque watercolor paint, on paper or cloth. The use of bright colors and simple lines gives Kalighat paintings their characteristic flatness and lack of depth. This flatness is further accentuated by the use of bold outlines to define figures and objects. Despite their humble origins, Kalighat paintings have come to be highly valued by collectors both within India and abroad. 

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