Mukul Dey
Mukul Chandra Dey was a student of Rabindranath Tagore
Rabindranath Tagore
Rabindranath Tagore , sobriquet Gurudev, was a Bengali polymath who reshaped his region's literature and music. Author of Gitanjali and its "profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse", he became the first non-European Nobel laureate by earning the 1913 Prize in Literature...

's Santiniketan. He is considered as a pioneer of drypoint
Drypoint is a printmaking technique of the intaglio family, in which an image is incised into a plate with a hard-pointed "needle" of sharp metal or diamond point. Traditionally the plate was copper, but now acetate, zinc, or plexiglas are also commonly used...

Etching is the process of using strong acid or mordant to cut into the unprotected parts of a metal surface to create a design in intaglio in the metal...

 in India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...


He was the first Indian artist to travel abroad for the purpose of studying printmaking as an art. While in Japan in 1916, Mukul Dey studied under Yokoyama Taikan
Yokoyama Taikan
was the pseudonym of a major figure in Meiji, Taishō and early Shōwa period Japanese painting. He is notable for helping create the Japanese painting technique of Nihonga. His real name was Yokoyama Hidemaro.-Early life:...

 and Kanzan Shimomura at Tokyo and Yokohama. At Yokohama Rabindranath Tagore
Rabindranath Tagore
Rabindranath Tagore , sobriquet Gurudev, was a Bengali polymath who reshaped his region's literature and music. Author of Gitanjali and its "profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse", he became the first non-European Nobel laureate by earning the 1913 Prize in Literature...

 and Mukul Dey lived as guests of Japanese silk-merchant Tomitaro Hara at his famous residential complex Sankeien
is a traditional Japanese-style garden in Naka Ward, Yokohama, Japan, which opened in 1906. Sankei-en was designed and built by , known by the pseudonym Sankei Hara, who was a silk trader...

, enjoying a rare opportunity to study classical Chinese and Nihonga
or literally "Japanese-style paintings" is a term used to describe paintings that have been made in accordance with traditional Japanese artistic conventions, techniques and materials...

 style Japanese paintings. Especially the masterpieces of Sesshu Toyo
Sesshu Toyo
was the most prominent Japanese master of ink and wash painting from the middle Muromachi period. He was born into the samurai Oda family , then brought up and educated to become a Rinzai Zen Buddhist priest...


Dey received his initial training at Rabindranath Tagore’s Santiniketan. He then traveled to America from Japan in 1916 to learn the technique of etching under James Blanding Sloane and Bertha E. Jaques in Chicago, to whom Dey was introduced by American artist Roi Partridge and his wife Imogen Cunningham
Imogen Cunningham
Imogen Cunningham was an American photographer known for her photography of botanicals, nudes and industry.-Life and career:...

. Mukul Dey remained a life-member of Chicago Society of Etchers. On his return to India in 1917, Dey concentrated on creating etchings as a fine art. He also supported himself through making portrait drawings of the rich and famous, and turned these into etchings. In 1920 Dey once again traveled abroad for the purpose of study, this time learning etching and engraving under Frank Short and Muirhead Bone
Muirhead Bone
Sir Muirhead Bone was a Scottish etcher, drypoint and watercolour artist.The son of a printer, Bone was born in Glasgow and trained initially as an architect, later going on to study art at Glasgow School of Art. He began printmaking in 1898, and although his first known print was a lithograph, he...

. He studied at both the Slade School of Fine Art
Slade School of Fine Art
The Slade School of Fine Art is a world-renownedart school in London, United Kingdom, and a department of University College London...

 and the Royal College of Art
Royal College of Art
The Royal College of Art is an art school located in London, United Kingdom. It is the world’s only wholly postgraduate university of art and design, offering the degrees of Master of Arts , Master of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy...

 in London. At Slade School of Art Mukul Dey was a student of Professor Henry Tonks
Henry Tonks
Henry Tonks, FRCS was a British draughtsman and painter of figure subjects, chiefly interiors, and a caricaturist...


According to the Polish sculptor Stanislaw Szukalski
Stanislaw Szukalski
Stanisław Szukalski was a Polish-born painter and sculptor. He also developed the pseudoscientific-historical theory of Zermatism, positing that all human culture was derived from post-deluge Easter Island and that mankind was locked in an eternal struggle with the Sons of Yeti , the offspring of...

, when Mukul was in America,
he showed Szukalski his drawings, which impressed the artist. He then told Szukalski of his desire to venture into Paris, to "finish his study", despite the extreme disapproval of this decision by Mukul's mentor, Tegore. Szukalski thought of Paris as a factory for the "brainwashing of the public of every nation", into thinking Kandinski, Picasso, etc., were masters. Szukalski told Mukul, "You are already a fine artist, but with your silly anticipation of finding miraculous Culture in Europe, you will swallow as a new religion any pseudo-movement, any Ism of the misfits who abuse painting and sculpture with combs, forks and brushes stuck in their noses to give an easy semblance of individuality. Later come to Europe, with enough belief in yourself to look upon European Decadence with CONTEMPT and the ability to select really worthy examples of Art from all ages and Cultures". This argument persuaded Mukul to return to Santiniketan, to the delight of Tegore.

Mukul Dey chose an essentially Western medium to portray various sides of Indian life. Unlike artists such as Haren Das
Haren Das
Harendra Narayan Das , better known as Haren Das, was a highly respected artist in India who worked almost exclusively in printmaking mediums...

, whose woodcut printing technique was more indigenous to Indian culture, Dey concentrated on drypoint etching, a thoroughly European practice. Regardless of his adopted Western technique, Dey chose subjects such as river scenes in Bengal, traditional baul singers, the markets of Calcutta, or the life of Santhal villagers in the Birbhum district, near the Santiniketan
Santiniketan is a small town near Bolpur in the Birbhum district of West Bengal, India, approximately 180 kilometres north of Kolkata . It was made famous by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, whose vision became what is now a university town that attracts thousands of visitors each year...

 art school. When the Tagore family of Kolkata created the Vichitra Club at their ancestral home of Jorasanko, Mukul Dey became an active member. At Vichitra Club the young and upcoming artists like Nandalal Bose
Nandalal Bose
Nandalal Bose was a notable Indian painter of Bengal school of art. A pupil of Abanindranath Tagore, Bose was known for "Indian style" of painting. He became the principal of Kala Bhawan, Shanti Niketan in 1922...

, Asit Kumar Haldar
Asit Kumar Haldar
Asit Kumar Haldar was an Indian painter and an assistant of Rabindranath Tagore at Shantiniketan. He was one of the major artists of the Bengal renaissance.-Early life:...

, Mukul Dey and Narayan Kashinath Deval were encouraged to experiment in ever new creative mediums and art forms.

Dey was appointed the first Indian Principal of the Government School of Art, Calcutta
Government College of Art & Craft, Kolkata
The Government College of Art & Craft in Kolkata is one of the oldest Art colleges in India. It was founded on August 16, 1854 at Garanhata, Chitpur, "with the purpose of establishing an institution for teaching the youth of all classes, industrial art based on scientific methods." as the School of...

, in 1928. Since Dey was committed to imposing an Indian identity on the then British-controlled art establishment, he quickly drove teachers too closely linked with Company School painting out of the institution. While at Government School of Art, Calcutta Mukul Dey was responsible for starting a women's section there. Prior to his time only men could join this institution as art students.

Gracefully drawn images of Bengali villagers executed in dry-point have become what Dey is most associated with. Some of his finer works are dry-point etchings that have been hand-colored with watercolors, colored pencils, or thin washes of ink. Dey is also remembered for his portraits of various Indian personalities, including members of the Tagore and Tata
- Companies :* Tata Group, India's largest business group and multinational company** List of entities associated with Tata Group- People :* Tata family, an influential family of India owning the Tata Group** Jamsetji Tata, known as the father of Indian industry...

 families, Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history...

, and Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. He also depicted lesser known personalities, such as Josephine MacLeod, the promoter of Swami Vivekananda
Swami Vivekananda
Swami Vivekananda , born Narendranath Dutta , was the chief disciple of the 19th century mystic Ramakrishna Paramahansa and the founder of the Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission...

’s Ramakrishna order at Belur Math
Belur Math
' or Belur Mutt is the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission, founded by Swami Vivekananda, a chief disciple of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. It is located on the west bank of Hooghly River, Belur, West Bengal, India and is one of the significant institutions in Calcutta...

. Incidentally, it was Josephine MacLeod who first brought Okakura Kakuzo
Okakura Kakuzo
was a Japanese scholar who contributed to the development of arts in Japan. Outside of Japan, he is chiefly remembered today as the author of The Book of Tea.-Biography:...

 to India from Japan in 1901-1902.

Mukul Dey’s works are found in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, the Indian Museum, Kolkata, the National Gallery of Modern Art
National Gallery of Modern Art
The National Gallery of Modern Art is the leading Indian art gallery. The main museum at New Delhi was established on March 29, 1954 by the Government of India, with subsequent branches at Mumbai and Bangalore...

 NGMA in Mumbai, and the National Gallery of Art, New Delhi. The Mukul Dey Archives are housed at Mukul Dey’s former home, named Chitralekha, at Santiniketan. He was also the illustrator for many book projects, one of his earliest was a scholarly book Shantiniketan Bolpur School of Rabindranath Tagore, which he illustrated for the later Nobel Price winner in 1916.

The younger brother of Mukul Dey, Manishi Dey
Manishi Dey
Manishi Dey was an Indian painter of the Bengal school of art. He was born in Dhaka on 22. September 1909 and died 1966 in Kolkata. He was the younger brother of Mukul Dey, a pioneering Indian teacher and engraver....

, was also an accomplished painter. He was a member of the Progressive Artists' Group and a prominent painter of the Bengal School.

External links

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