10 Famous Indian Art Masterpieces You Must Get To Know Better

Over the years Indian artists have created some magnificent works of art. Here are 10 of the most famous Indian paintings of all time (in alphabetical order of the artists first name).

“I am an Indian and a painter. That’s all.” – Maqbool Fida Husain

Art is a way to find and lose yourself. Well, here’s an opportunity to do that and more in the company of 10 Indian masterpieces that will vividly remind you how much there is to appreciate in Indian art and how much more of it you should strive to introduce yourself to. Bon voyage!

1. Bharat Mata by Abindranath Tagore

Abanindranath Tagore was the founder of the Bengal School of Art. This is one of his most famous and iconic paintings. In Bharat Mata, Abindranath depicts a saffron clad woman, dressed like a sadhvi, holding a book, sheaves of paddy, a piece of white cloth and a garland in her four hands. Of great emotional and historical value, this painting was created in 1905 and inspired nationalists in Bengal and around India.

Bharat Mata – Abanindranath Tagore

Bharat Mata by Abanindranath Tagore

2. Self-portrait by Amrita Sher-Gil

Created in 1931, it depicts her at the age of 18. Self-portrait is one of only eight canvases by Sher-Gil to be offered at auction globally. Critics will tell you that all of Sher-Gil’s self-portraits are painted with an intensity that draws the viewer into a sea of melancholy that resides in her.

Self-portrait by Amrita Sher-Gil

Self-portrait by Amrita Sher-Gil

3. Three Pujarins by Jamini Roy

Jamini Roy is considered to be one of the most eminent early modernists of Indian art. He experimented with vibrant colours and developed a unique style that resulted in artworks that were a visual feast. This is one of his masterpieces. It depicts three almond-eyed priestesses. It was inspired by the folk art tradition of Bengal.

Three Pujarins – Jamini Roy

Three Pujarins by Jamini Roy

4. Horses by M F Husain

Maqbool Fida Husain, one of India’s most prolific painters, enjoyed depicting the lively and free spirit of horses in his art. This painting captures the power and energy of three horses through bold outlines and dynamic velocity. This is considered to be one of his best works. When placed on auction at Christie’s in 2008, it fetched over INR 1 crore, which was unprecedented.

Horses – M F Husain

Horses by M F Husain

5. Bapuji by Nandalal Bose

Not known to many is the fact that Bapu (Mahatma Gandhi) was a muse for many artists that were his contemporaries in India and abroad. The legendary Nandalal Bose, an artist of Shantiniketan, said that Bapu was an inspiration for all artists. This famous linocut portrait of the Mahatma, titled ‘Dandi March’, was created in 1930. It intensely reflects his respect for Gandhi and is on permanent display at the National Gallery of Modern Art in Delhi.

Bapuji by Nandalal Bose

Bapuji by Nandalal Bose

6. Krishna (Spring in Kulu) by Nichohal Roerich

Krishna (Spring in Kullu) by famous Russian artist Nicholas Roerich finds a place in the pantheon of Indian art masterpieces because Roerich, after having travelled the world, made Kullu his home and died there. This painting shows Krishna playing the flute under a tree in blossom against a majestic backdrop of snow-covered mountains. In 1979, Roerich was declared by Archeological Survey of India as one of the nine artists whose works are considered national art treasures.

Krishna (Spring in Kulu) by Nichohal Roerich

Krishna (Spring in Kulu) by Nichohal Roerich

7. Self-portrait by Rabindranath Tagore

Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore began painting very late in life – in 1924 at the age of 63. After that, Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore strove to make art more accessible and created thousands of sketches and drawings using brush, pencil and pen. One of his most famous creations is this self-portrait.

Self-portrait by Rabindranath Tagore

Self-portrait by Rabindranath Tagore

8. Shakuntala by Raja Ravi Verma

Shakuntala is a Sanskrit play written by the world-famous ancient Indian poet Kalidasa. This is an epic painting that depicts a scene from that play. It was created by the celebrated Indian painter, Raja Ravi Varma. In this scene, Raja Ravi Verma paints Shakunta pretending to remove a thorn from her foot, while actually looking for her husband/lover, Dushyantha. Her friends call her bluff.

Shakuntala by Raja Ravi Verma

Shakuntala by Raja Ravi Verma

9. Bindu by S H Raza

S H Raza was famed Indian modern artist who popularised Indian iconography around the world. Syed Haider Raza was so fond of painting the the bindu‘or the shunya in various forms that is became the focal point of energy in his work. Raza once stated that “Bindu is a source of energy, source of life. Life begins here, attains infinity here.”

Bindu – S H Raza

Bindu by S H Raza

10. Mahishasura by Tyeb Mehta

Tyeb Mehta’s Mahishasura is the artist’s impression of the immortal tale of the demon Mahishasura. Created by Mehtra after his visit to Shantiniketan, the painting fuses ancient imagery with simplicity of form, colour and line to give us a powerful modern work that exudes vitality. It was the first Indian painting to cross the million dollar mark and sold for a mind-boggling $1.584 million at Christie’s in 2005.

Mahishasura by Tyeb Mehta

Mahishasura by Tyeb Mehta

Avinash Subramaniam

Avinash has been an advertising writer, fiction writer, poetry writer, freelance writer and serial wronger. Other roles he has been in include those of an editor, brand builder, and teacher. His interests include advertising, scrabble, body building, chess, cinema, making money, reading, internet culture, cricket, photography. To hear him air his thoughts, follow him on Twitter @armchairexpert.

1 Comment

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    Amir Mohtashemi March 19, 2019

    That’s quite a nice list, however my personnel favourite is Shakuntala by Raja Ravi Verma. Thanks for sharing.


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