Shri Jamini Roy (1887-1972) was one of India’s most important artists. Born to a moderately prosperous family of landowners in West Bengal, Roy studied at the Government College of Art, Kolkata, where he was taught to paint in the prevailing European academic tradition of drawing Classical nudes and painting in oils. He received his Diploma in Fine Art in 1908.
Roy soon realized that he needed to paint not within a Western tradition, but from his own culture, and looked to folk and tribal art of Bengal for inspiration. His new style was a reaction against the prevalent Western tradition and he tried to capture the simplicity embodied in the life of rural Bengali people. Roy wanted to make art accessible to a wider section of people and to give Indian art its own identity. By the 1930s, his popularity touched new heights with the Bengali middle class and the European expatriate community becoming his main clientele. In 1954, he was awarded the Padma Bhusan, India’s third highest civilian award. Roy was also the first Fellow of the Lalit Kala Akademi, the highest honor in fine arts awarded by the National Academy of Arts. In 1976, four years after his death, the Government of India declared Jamini Roy among the ‘Nine Masters’ whose work is considered National Art Treasures.