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Art Terms

Kalighat Painting

Fast-painted Temple Souvenir

In 19th century India, in Bengal villages, a form of story telling flourished whereby painters called patua performed with their vertically long scrolls called pata. As Kolkata flourished as the capital of British India, and center of business and culture, artists seeking opportunities began to arrive and gather around the Kalighat Kali Temple (built 1809), and at first painted religious pieces aimed at worshippers visiting the temple. These artists blended the individual style of the pat with the incoming Western influences through colonialism, and this became known as Kalighat Painting. In addition to Hindu gods, secular topics such as crime or love stories were handled. As very populist works in appearance, they were attractive to the British as souvenirs. They are valued as an important part of India’s own folk heritage and the genre has gone on to influence modern Indian art.

Artist Unknown (Kalighat School) "Vishnu and Lakshmi with Garuda" late 19th century watercolor on paper

Artist Unknown (Kalighat School) "Woman with Her Pet Lover" early 20th century watercolor on paper

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