HEMENDRANATH MAZUMDAR (1894-1948)
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HEMENDRANATH MAZUMDAR (1894-1948)

Untitled (Country Flower)

Details
HEMENDRANATH MAZUMDAR (1894-1948)
Untitled (Country Flower)
signed indistinctly (lower left)
oil on canvas laid on board
29 5/8 x 18 ¼ in. (75.2 x 46.4 cm.)
Painted circa 1930s
Provenance
Property from an English Gentleman
Sotheby's New York, 24 March 2010, lot 118
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Literature
The Art of Mr. H. Mazumdar, Vol. V, Calcutta, 1927 (another version illustrated, unpaginated)
Special notice

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Damian Vesey
Damian Vesey

Lot Essay

Born in 1894 in erstwhile Bengal, now a part of Bangladesh, Hemendranath Mazumdar was one of the few Indian artists of the early twentieth century to achieve both academic and commercial success. Educated at the Jubilee Art School and the Government School of Arts in Kolkata, he gained a thorough understanding of European academic styles and techniques and applied them to the Indian themes and subjects he painted.
Although he was a close associate of Abanindranath Tagore, Mazumdar was never won over by the ideals of the Neo-Bengal School that Tagore founded. In a 1929 issue of the Illustrated Journal of Fine Arts, he wrote an article titled ‘The Making of a Picture’ in which he defined his working processes as typical of the prevailing academic technique favoured by the British: first producing preparatory sketches, then more detailed pencil and wash studies prior to the final, finely structured painting. Mazumdar's oeuvre followed in the tradition of Raja Ravi Varma and explored a comparable range of themes centering mainly on idealising, sensual studies of the female form.
Mazumdar is best known for his portraits of Indian women, which his wife frequently sat for, explaining the similarities seen in the features of many of his subjects. Combining elements of Western Classicism with Indian tradition, this portrait features a beautiful woman returning from gathering wild flowers. Creating an improvised basket for these flowers from the folds of her sari, held in place with one hand, Mazumdar’s subject uses her other hand to tuck one of the flowers in her hair. Although she is portrayed alone, in a private moment, her eyes lift to meet the viewer’s gaze, rendering her at once vulnerable and provocative, subject and agent. As with his other portraits, here the artist’s attention to detail is evident in the woman’s intricately draped sari and fine jewels.

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