Rabindranath Tagore

Kosetsu Nosu: The Japanese Artist who Painted at Sarnath

— Satyasri Ukil

Kosetsu Nosu, reprinted from 1936 exhibition catalogue
Photo: Mukul Dey Archives
Once upon a time the Chitralekha House at Santiniketan had a richer collection of original paintings than what it has now. Many of these were displayed in our south facing verandah and other rooms. One such painting, hung on the wall adjacent to a peculiar staircase leading to the first-floor, was a brush-n-ink work by Kosetsu Nosu done on golden yellow Japanese silk stretched on a wooden frame. It depicted Lord Buddha, sitting cross-legged amid a stark desolate landscape. The picture fascinated me even as a child, the lines being bold, fluid and beautiful.

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Rabindranath Tagore's Exhibition

— Satyasri Ukil

Rabindranath Tagore at his painting desk. This photograph was exposed by Mukul Dey on monochrome glass-plate at 28, Chowringhee, Calcutta in 1932. Tagore often used Pelican coloured inks to paint his pictures.
Photo: Mukul Dey
Exhibition held at Government School of Art, Calcutta, 1932

Reprinted from ‘Art & Deal’, August-September, 1999.

It would have been proper to provide a backdrop of Rabindranath Tagore/Mukul Dey relationship before attempting to restructure these pragmatic aspects of an exhibition, which might generate controversies regarding certain ideological questions in the end.

Artist Mukul Dey, the sponsor of this historic exhibition was a student of Tagore’s school at Santiniketan during the years c. 1906 till 1912. Once a disciple and protégé, later on a rebel and a deserter (Dec. 13, 1917) Mukul Dey came back from U. K. to take the charge of Government School of Art, Calcutta, on July 11, 1928 as its first Indian Principal.

Our story begins here: at Calcutta, in the year 1928.

As source material to examine and narrate the topic mentioned above we have a set of nine letters of Rabindranath Tagore to Mukul Dey between Nov. 1928 and Nov. 1933; one printed and published illustrated catalogue of this exhibition; a set of six money receipts; one letter of poet’s son, Rathindranath Tagore to Mukul Dey dated March 18, 1932 and two newspaper clippings of ‘The Statesman’, Calcutta, 1932.

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Yokoyama Taikan: An Artist Remembered

— Satyasri Ukil

Monochrome reproduction of Japanese landscape with trees and boat by Yokoyama Taikan
Photo: Mukul Dey Archives
This article is reprinted from ‘Art & Deal’, March-April, 2001.

To get a perspective on Yokoyama Taikan and his role and influence in starting the revivalist / nationalist art movement in Bengal in the first decade of the last century, it would be fit to start the inquiry at the event of Okakura Kakuzo’s visit to the house of the Jorasanko Tagores in the year 1902.

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Remembering Tomitaro Hara

— Satyasri Ukil

‘Kiyo-san’, brush and ink sketch by Mukul Dey, done at Tomitaro Hara’s Sankeien, 1916.
Photo: Mukul Dey Archives
An Art Lover Extraordinaire of Meiji Japan

A successful silk merchant named Tomitaro Hara built a mansion by the sea in Honmoku. He bought exquisite teahouses and other ancient structures in Kyoto and elsewhere and had them dismantled and rebuilt in his garden. Hara named his garden Sankeien, for it was blessed with three glens, one of which opened out to a small beach and a view of the bay”

So wrote Kunio Francis Tanabe in his article Memories of Old Honmoku in The Japan Times of May 19, 1999.

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