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Beyond the Pages

Although Rabindranath did not uncover the visual artist in himself until his late years, he was surrounded by artists in his family. His uncle Girindranath Tagore was a trained painter of portraits and landscapes in the Western style; his brother Jyotririndranath was an accomplished draftsman; and his nephews Abanindranath Tagore and Gaganendranath Tagore were leaders of the new movement in Indian art inspired by swadeshi, or the first wave of nationalism. Rabindranath warned his nephews to steer clear of historicism and to experience life around them.

Untitled (Blue flowers)

Untitled (Blue flowers), c. 1934
Colored ink and poster paint on paper
8 1/16 x 5 in. (20.4 x 12.7 cm)
Rabindra Bhavana, 00-2248-16

It was during the years of growing Indian nationalism that he was able to make the emerging literary genre of the short story both his own and Indian. He did this by incorporating his experience of nature and life in rural Bengal which he had come to know intimately since he began administering the family estates around Shelidah in the late 1880s.

Untitled (Landscape: large dark tree silhouetted against orange sky)

Untitled (Landscape: large dark tree silhouetted against orange sky), c. 1933
Colored ink and poster paint on paper
26 3/8 x 26 15/16 in. (67 x 68.5 cm)
Rabindra Bhavana, 00-1836-16

While he traveled the region from 1885 to 1895, he frequently wrote on beauty and the evocative power of the landscape and natural elements. The landscapes that Rabindranath painted in his mature years are condensed memories, a kind of archetypal landscape, with very few suggestions of human presence in them. They represent an intimate encounter with the world.