Traversing many a moons of Indian Painting Styles


Last Updated on November 24, 2022 by Swadesi

Indian Art is among the most diverse forms of art found in any political state.  An onlooker may notice the variations that occur in the span of a few miles. The South Indian paintings differ from the North Indian style and the latter differ from the North-eastern style and among these styles too, different cities have a distinct peculiar touch to them. What is fascinating to know is the fact that almost each to these styles haven’t taken birth in the recent years but are remnants of times gone by. Many among them have adapted with respect to the need of the time, while very many are potent enough to wade off all the chances of undergoing alteration.

The earliest Indian Paintings date back to 10,000 B.C. These were carved on the walls of caves. Throughout the Indian history we come across instances from the Vedas that assert the fact that paintings have always been a preferred form of art. The court of most of the Indian emperors adorned beautiful works of art and therefore the artists were mostly provided with a climate hospitable for honing their skills and were awarded prizes.

Paintings are done on leaves, paper, cloth, canvas, gold leaf, mica, wood etc. The art forms of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar and entire Southern India, are lauded for their uniqueness all over the world.


The Indian painting styles have constantly flowed from one era to the other. The ancient medieval and modern eras have their own individuality but there is somewhere that common thread, you may not be able to describe but it definitely will make you say, “That’s an Indian work of art!” Indian cave paintings top the chronological list. The list of these wall paintings includes the famous Ajanta and Ellora Caves, Bhimbekta, Bagh etc,

The Medieval India takes us to the court of the Mughals and the Marathas and the Rajputs – the crowning period for Indian art and architecture. Each of these emperors worked towards making sure that they shall leave behind artefacts that’ll portray their majesty and love for art. The Indo-Islamic form of painting was a pristine addition to the Indian style and is cherished even hundreds of years hence. The Thanjavur or Tanjore paintings are trademark of the Marathas. These elaborately designed and ornate pictures are the bestsellers of South India. Gods and goddesses are the images of prime focus. The Rajput paintings that are said to be coloured with the Mughal style are known for their quality. There are varied number of schools that fall under this art and each one has its own prowess to exhibit.


Modern Indian Paintings started to change the face of the Indian style. The British intervention was clearly visible initially. The paintings changed to portraits with subdued hues and less or no embellishments. The Madras School of Art was set up by the British in the mid 19th century, this is where intermingling of cultures initiated. The foreign rulers trained the Indian artists in the kind of art that was in demand across the English Channel. The artists used both urbane as well as indigenous paints. The Madras School of Art has lived through the period of independence and thrives until today.

The Bengal School of Arts is an even contemporary art academy that was founded as late as the 20th century, during the rule of the British Empire but not backed by them. It has more to do with the rebels; the patriots. The paintings thus composed had a stroke of nationalism. It took birth amid a scenario of rebellion and protests when the Indian artists refused the extrinsic forces to rule their minds and dexterity. Many modern day artists find a close association with this school of reformers.

Raja Ravi Varma the well read artist hailing from the state of Kerala is a revered name in the chronicles of Indian Art. He has his innate style where he imperceptibly mixed the art forms of Europe and the Indian sub continent. He developed art works that depicted the Indian heritage, art and culture but the modus operandi was primarily English.


The contemporary times are times of globalization in a single global village called the Earth. Artists take inputs from various schools of art spread all over the planet and make an amalgamation which is novel in its form and is a fusion of multiple techniques. Artists paint abstract together with hard core reality. M.F. Husain, Vasudeo S. Gaitonde, Bikash Bhattacharjee, Francis Newton Souza are a few contemporary legacies that have left this world only to be remembered till eternity.


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