In 1976, the Government of India declared Rabindranath Tagore’s work to be a national treasure with regard to his ‘artistic and aesthetic value’ and prohibited the exportation of his works outside the country. Today, he is remembered primarily, as the first Asian to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913.
Tagore turned to painting later in life and his true talent was recognized whilst on a trip to Argentina when he visited as a guest of Signora Victoria Ocampo. He kept a private journal of his doodles and sketches which were very ornate. His technique of working and reworking lines is both enigmatic and expressive, as seen in the current lot. Ocampo felt his drawings of birds and faces were spiritual in nature and saw them as much more than naturalistic interpretations. Inspired by his interest in anthropology, his renditions of animals were seen as grotesque and anthropomorphic, and were seldom typical representations. This use of the familiar yet unknown has become synonymous with Tagore’s drawings and paintings. This drawing is dated by Tagore - 15 April 1941. He died a few months later on 7 August 1941.