Lot 29
  • 29

ABANINDRANATH TAGORE | Untitled (Katla Fish)

20,000 - 30,000 USD
18,750 USD
bidding is closed


  • Abanindranath Tagore
  • Untitled (Katla Fish)
  • Signed in Bengali lower left
  • Ink and watercolor on paper 
  • 8 x 13 ½ in. (20.3 x 34.2 cm.)


Private Collection
Sotheby's New York, 10 October 1997, lot 15 

Catalogue Note

Born on 7th August, 1871, to the illustrious Tagore family of Jorsanko, Abanindranath Tagore grew up in an environment that fostered creativity and patronage in the Calcutta art scene. Ever the iconoclast, Aban, as he was fondly known, eschewed formal training in art from an early age. Later he took lessons from the acclaimed English artist Charles Palmer, who encouraged him to adopt watercolor as his medium. In 1907, Tagore established the Indian School of Oriental Art and founded ‘The Bengal School’, which was responsible for  pioneering the Bengal art movement. He is also credited with establishing the earliest brand of 'Indian modernism,' which rejected the Western 'Imperialist' precepts of painting in favor of a 'pan-Asian' philosophy of creating art. Under his guidance, a new generation of painters emerged, such as Nandalal Bose, Asit Halder, Kshitindranath Mazumdar and Jamini Roy. Although the Bengal movement is now criticized for being too derivative, he is credited with key contributions that led to the renaissance in Indian art

Tagore's artistic style was crystallized after his encounter with Japanese ink paintings, which exerted an enormous influence on an entire generation of Bengal School artists. He achieved mastery in this medium, employing pale color washes in an expressionistic manner to achieve a dreamlike lyricism in his paintings.

Tagore's paintings were exhibited in London and Paris in 1913, followed by another international exhibition in Japan in 1919. At the time his works were admired by Auguste Rodin and William Rothenstein. He was further inspired by Okakura Kakuzō, a Japanese artist and art-critic who came to India with Swami Vivekananda. Okakura was of the opinion that the spirit of a nation expresses itself in its art, and that from the point of view of art, all Asia was one. Later, he studied Japanese art under the guidance of two other Japanese artists, Yokoyama Taikoan and Hilsida Shunso, who were sent to India by Okakura himself to help with Tagore's training. It is the traditional Japanese wash technique that appears to influence the style of the current painting.