Have you heard this interesting story about Sukumar Bose, who was an eminent Indian artist and painter, who popularized the tradition of the Bengal School of painting?
Here’s the story!
In his young days, Sukumar Bose was also interested in films and acting. He had run away from his home in Lucknow to try his luck in Bombay film world. He got a very big break when he was selected by the film production company Bombay Talkies and cast opposite the star actress Leela Chitnis.
However, before the shooting could start, his grandfather who was an eminent lawyer in Lucknow, arrived and took him back home.
His role went to another young man, who later became a very big star. His name was Ashok Kumar!
They met later in life, when they both had achieved great success in their respective fields. Read more about the artist Sukumar Bose, whose paintings were treasured all over the world.
Sukumar Bose was born on 12 May 1912 in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India. His father was named Sanat Kumar Bose and his mother’s name was Bina Pani Bose. Sukumar was one among their seven son.
Sukumar’s family was upper-middle class Brahmo Samaji Bengali family in Lucknow. They also promoted Bengali art and culture. Sukumar’s grandfather Bipin Behari Bose, was a successful lawyer of the Lucknow Bar and related to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
As a boy, Sukumar had an aptitude for painting, and clay and wood modelling. Later he developed a deep interest in fine arts, especially painting and sculpture.
To pursue his interest further, he enrolled in the Government Art College, Lucknow. He was fortunate to study Art under Asit Kumar Haldar who headed the college. Haldar was a very prominent artist and Rabindranath Tagore’s elder sister’s grandson. He studied in Shantiniketan under Gurudev’s direct guidance. When Haldar came to Lucknow, he became a good friend of the Bose family.
In 1931, while at the Art college, Bose won awards at several All-India painting competitions.
In 1932, when he was twenty years old, Sukumar Bose came to Delhi and joined as Art teacher at the Modern School Delhi. With the founder of the school, Raghubir Singh, he toured several cities in India and made prominent personalities, many of whom participated in the Indian freedom movement.
Bose continued as an Art teacher at the school till 1947.
Bose had the Viceroy of India, Lord Louis Mountbatten and his wife Lady Edwina as patrons of his art. His paintings found place in their private collection at Broadland House, Romsey in Hampshire, UK.
In 1945, he was appointed Curator of Paintings at Viceroy House, which later was called the Rashtrapati Bhavan. He held this position post-independence till 1972. After his retirement in 1972, when the President of India was Shri V.V. Giri, Bose was appointed as the honorary Art Advisor to the President. Bose continued in this position till 1974.
In 1950, Bose was assigned by the Pope, Pius XII, to make an art piece on a Christian theme but executed in Indian style. Sukumar Bose then made “The Nativity – The Birth of Christ” which now adorns The Vatican.
During the period 1952-1960, Bose held several of his solo art exhibition in several countries like the UK, USA, Australia and the former USSR; and also in several cities in India.
His paintings were acquired by Indian embassies and private collectors. Several of his works were acquired by the governments of Brazil, Egypt and Iraq, and one depicting the Buddha has found its place in Vidayalankar University in Sri Lanka.
His Painting Style
The painting style of Sukumar Bose reflects the impression of Indo-Persian. He prominently used softer tones of solid colors like black, red, gold and silver. Bose also painted several murals and frescoes. His astonishing wall paintings or murals adorn the Rashtrapati Bhavan and can be viewed to this day.
Bose was considered a versatile artist as he also indulged in modern art. He blended the old and new techniques, while strictly following the principles of realism. His training and education in Art made him a traditionalist who preferred to depict realism over the abstract which required to be interpreted. He believed in learning arts as a technique.
The subjects portrayed in Bose’s work were diverse, ranging from Indian mythology motifs, to landscapes, animals and village women. His artistic style of expression set the trend for Indian art.
Association and Affiliations
Bose promoted Indian art and culture throughout his career. He was a founder member of the All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society. AIFACS published a bi-annual art journal called Roop Lekha, with which Sukumar Bose was actively involved. AIFACS developed into what is today known as the Lalit Kala Academy.
Besides the above, Bose was also involved with many other societies including the Army Headquarters Dramatic Society, New Delhi, and Board of Technical Education, Delhi.
Awards and Recognition
He also designed invitation cards, dinner settings and interior decoration, as well as coats of arms, these were valued by highest dignitaries including PMs like Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi.
Bose was awarded the Silver Shield in 1969 by the then President Zakir Hussain.
In 1970, he received one of India’s highest civilian honor, the Padma Shri, from the then President V.V. Giri.
The Bose family in Lucknow believed in simple living, high thinking, despite being comparatively more affluent than others. In 1934, Bose’s father passed away when he was only 22, and he took responsibility of the household.
In 1936, Sukumar Bose was married to Bela Chaudhury, and the couple had three children; Kamal, Altu and Debashish. His eldest son Kamal, remembers him as a caring husband and father who provided well for the family. They lead a comfortable, simple life.
On 10th November 1986, Bose passed away peacefully in New Delhi. He was 74. He left behind a rich colorful legacy, and his huge inventory of paintings and sculpture. Bose was an artist who has been given the credits for bringing the Bengal School of Art and style to North India. Many of his endeavors for promoting Indian arts and culture found shape in due course of time.
Written By: Raj Kumar Hansdah
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