Lot Content

Global notice COVID-19 Important notice
HEMENDRANATH MAZUMDAR (1894-1948)
HEMENDRANATH MAZUMDAR (1894-1948)

Untitled (Woman in Moonlight)

Details
HEMENDRANATH MAZUMDAR (1894-1948)
Untitled (Woman in Moonlight)
signed 'H. MAZUMDAR' (lower left)
oil on canvas
29 7/8 x 19 ½ in. (75.9 x 49.5 cm.)
Painted circa 1930s
Provenance
Private Collection, Great Neck, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner

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 Calcutta, he gained a thorough understanding of the European academic style.

Although he was a close associate of Abanindranath Tagore, Mazumdar was never won over by the ideals of the Bengal School that Tagore founded. Mazumdar’s oeuvre instead followed in the tradition of Raja Ravi Varma and explored a comparable range of themes centering mainly on idealizing sensual studies of the female form. 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.

Despite also being recognized for his skill in the genre of landscape painting, Mazumdar is best known for his oil paintings of women, usually bathing or draped in diaphanous saris. His wife frequently sat for these portraits, explaining the similarities seen between many of these subjects’ features. Combining elements of Western Classicism with Indian tradition, the present lot features a beautiful woman standing ankle-deep in a stream. With a bowed head, she collects flowers from the grassy banks of the stream, one already enchantingly tucked behind her ear. The ivory and blush tones of her sari reflect the light of the large moon rising behind her, heightening the sense of romance, vulnerability and voyeurism that the artist evokes in this painting.

During his lifetime Mazumdar was awarded many high-profile commissions, including decorating a celebratory gate to welcome King George V of England to India in 1911, and being appointed the Court Artist of the Maharaja of Patiala (1932-38). Many of his works created during this period still hang in the palaces of princely states including Jodhpur and Bikaner. Mazumdar’s final great achievement was the design of a mural to accompany the All India Exhibition of 1948 in Calcutta, following Indian independence the year before. The mural depicted scenes from his childhood in Bengal, serving as testament to his talent and cementing his legacy after he passed away later that year.

More from South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art

View All
View All