10 Most Beautiful Indian Art & Paintings Every Indian Must Know About

I’ve always lived by the quote “Art is not what it looks like, but what it does to us” by Roy Adzak. There have been pieces that have stood their way through history and time. Not only have they been able to hold the viewers, but also have ignited a sort of reaction in the everyday life of a normal person. As Picasso says, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” That is art and Indian art is no different. There have been some breathtaking works from Indian artists and in this article, I have collected 10 pieces of art from India that will never be forgotten.

1. Bapuji – Nandlal Bose

Bapuji – Nandlal Bose Art

Nandala Bose, the legendary artist of Shantiniketan and the one who had lived in the lifetime of Gandhi, always stated that Bapu, Mahatma Gandhi, was an inspiration for all artists. This famous linocut portrait of Mahatma Gandhi was created in 1930 and reflects the respect for and simple life of Mahatma Gandhi. The portrait is now on display at the National Gallery of Modern Art in Delhi.

2. Self-portrait – Rabindranath Tagore

Self-portrait – Rabindranath Tagore Art

It might seem a little crazy that the Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore only started painting at the age of 63. Before this, however, one can notice various corrections and doodles in his manuscript. After that, he painted more frequently and made art accessible to all. One of them is this self-portrait and has been quite famous across the world.

3. Horses – M F Husain

Horses – M F Husain Art

Without a doubt, Maqbool Fida Husain is one of India’s most prolific painters. He enjoyed living his life freely and this work depicts the free spirit nature of horses. He has used horses in his other works, but this particular one succeeds to capture the power and energy with the use of bold outlines/ This painting was on auction at Christie’s in 2008 and was sold for over Rs.1 crore.

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4. Glow of Hope – SL Haldankar

Glow of Hope – SL Haldankar Art

Popularly known as Lady with the Lamp, this famous watercolor masterpiece depicts a young, demure girl with a lamp in her hand, and the notable thing about it is that she is trying to keep the lamp alive. It is believed that it took S L Haldankar only three hours to create this depiction of her daughter who had stood there for three hours as an object of creation. Today, this painting is a major attraction at Sri Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery in Jaganmohan Palace in Mysore and has been there for over 60 years.

5. Bharat Mata – Abanindranath Tagore

Bharat Mata - Abanindranath Tagore Art

Founder of Bengal School of Art, Abanindranath Tagore is famous for iconic paintings, one of which is the Bharat Mata which shows a saffron-clad woman who is dressed like a sadvhi, with a book, sheaves of paddy, a piece of white cloth and a garland in all her four hands. This was created in 1905 and beholds a great historical and emotional value for the nationalists in Bengal around that era.

6. Shakuntala – Raja Ravi Verma

Shakuntala – Raja Ravi Verma Art

Everyone knows Shakuntala as the famous Sanskrit play written by the famous poet Kalidasa. This painting ‘Shakuntala’ is a depiction of a scene from the play. Created by Raja Ravi Sharma, the painting shows Shakuntala pretending to remove thorns from her feet when in fact she is looking for her lover.

7. Self-portrait by Amrita Sher-Gil

Self-portrait by Amrita Sher-Gil Art

This self-portrait was created in 1931 and shows the painter Amrita Sher-Gil at the age of 18. This is one of only eight paintings offered to be auctioned by Amrita Sher-Gil across the world. Art critics say that this painting shows the sea of melancholy that resides inside her.

8. Mahishasura – Tyeb Mehta

Mahishasura – Tyeb Mehta Art

‘Mahishasura’ is a contemporary art by contemporary artist Tyeb Mehta and depicts the tale of the demon Mahishasura. This painting is very important for Indian culture because it was the first painting that sold over a dollar mark, at an insane price of $1.584 million at Christie’s in 2005. Tyeb created this painting after visiting Shantiniketan after hearing the legend of the demon.

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9. Tamil Girl with Her Parrots – S Elayaraja

Tamil Girl with Her Parrots – S Elayaraja Art

Known for being hyper-real, S Elayaraja’s ‘Tamil Girl with Her Parrots’ portrays the much acclaimed inimitable style to depict Dravidian girls in the painting. Here, the girl is seen to be sitting with her parts and smiling into the frame as if she knows she is in the frame. The level of detail in this painting is commendable. From her dripping sari with gold-threaded patterns to the hair braided around her neck, the picture is bathed in a golden angelic light which might signify the artist’s attempt to bond with his cultural background.

10. Three Pujarins – Jamini Roy

Three Pujarins – Jamini Roy Art

Considered to be the early modernist of 20th-century Indian art, Jamini Roy painted ‘Three Pujarins’ by representing three almond-eyed priestesses. He was famous for using vibrant colors and developed a unique style for a visual feast. This painting was inspired by Bengali tradition.