The Archives

The first plan of Mukul Dey’s thatched cottage Chitralekha. This was dated January 10, 1928. Note the architectural similarity with Taladhvaj, Santiniketan
Photo: Mukul Dey Archives
The Indian art scenario was quite rich and original especially during the first half of the last century. Pioneer Indian graphic artist and printmaker Mukul Dey has left behind a large body of work and papers, as a result of his interactions with a worldwide cross-section of important people. These throw light on early 20th century Indian art scenario.

The Aim

Few can deny the importance of documentation in an era which is essentially information oriented. Information, substantiated by documentary evidence is the cornerstone for any meaningful research effort. We believe that whatever we have inherited, collected and preserved till now should be made available to the serious research scholar from all over the world.

The Archives

Chitralekha House, 1928. Drypoint impression by Mukul Dey
Photo: Mukul Dey Archives
Mukul Dey Archives is a private archive, located at Santiniketan, West Bengal, India, where approved researchers are welcome to consult and use the facility in exchange of a fee payable to Mukul Dey Archives Trust.

In 1928, when Mukul Dey decided to settle in Santiniketan, the landscape was quite barren and arid. Amid this desolation, and just adjacent to Tagore’s school, he purchased a plot of land and built a little thatched cottage on it. Rabindranath Tagore named cottage Chitralekha. It was at Chitralekha that Dey  lived for the best part of his life.

The archives building is a new structure built in the same compound. It has a spacious research room-cum-picture gallery, which also houses a modest library of rare art books and Jawaharlal Nehru visits Chitralekha House, December 1957
Photo: Mukul Dey Archives
journals.

Compared with many modern archives, our modest effort will be found wanting in several aspects. Lack of funding or institutional support makes it impossible for us to do better for the moment. However we are hopeful for the future and would like to make these documents available to researchers as these may help in constructing an alternative picture of Indian art and cultural renaissance in the early 20th century.

Contents

The entire body of Mukul Dey Archives would be anywhere between 500-750 individual files and more. This is a work in progress, and we are unable to provide a more exact picture because new material keeps surfacing as we go through his old papers and there is a lag between, preserving, cataloguing and making it available for researchers.

Chitralekha House, March 2010
Photo: Mukul Dey Archives
Broadly, the collection includes:

  1. Period newspaper clippings on art and exhibitions.
  2. Old art exhibition catalogues.
  3. Original correspondence and manuscripts.
  4. Original sketches, drawings, paintings and graphic prints by various artists.
  5. Rare colour reproductions of neo-Bengal School paintings.
  6. Rare monochrome photographs and unpublished negatives of Bengal terracotta temples by Mukul Dey.
  7. Mukul Dey Collection and exhibition catalogues.
  8. Exclusive correspondence, original illustrated catalogue and other materials related to Rabindranath Tagore’s first solo exhibition in India, 1932.
  9. Old glass plate photographic negatives of Rabindranath Tagore paintings.
  10. Rare books and journals on art and aesthetics.
  11. Audio and video interviews of Mukul Dey, Bina Dey and Shantanu Ukil.

Click here to view the catalogue.