#MuseumJigsaw: The Last Supper by Jamini Roy

The one lesson to learn from artist Jamini Roy is that it’s never too late to walk a different road. Under the tutelage of Abanindranath Tagore, he learnt the British academic style of painting, drew portraits and gained experience (and a little fame)! But at 34, not feeling inspired by what he was making – he decided to go back to his village (Bankura, West Bengal) and explored the rural art there. The influence of folk traditions, and especially Patua painters is said to have changed his art style completely! His work after this period was appreciated so much that he became one of the 9 masters of Indian Modern Art – being labelled as a National Treasure!

This artwork is from the Museum of Art and Photography [MAP] Bangalore

Amidst other works, Jamini Roy was known for his Christian-themed paintings. This painting is based on the famous ‘Last Supper’.

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About the Painting

In the 1920s, Jamini Roy began to focus on the theme of the Santhals, a large tribal group scattered across West Bengal, Jharkhand, Assam, Bihar and Odisha. He began painting scenes of them engaged in daily life, their community and celebrations – all painted in the folk tradition.

But it was in the 1940s at the height of his popularity that Roy really began to experiment with what some called his boldest theme – The Life of Christ – painted in now his signature Kalighat folk style and understood by the average Bengali. Most popular were his vivid renditions of The Last Supper, Flight to Egypt, The Crucifixion – where the skin tone, the almond eyes, the flat imagery with its bold brush strokes gave the images a local life.

This painting of The Last Supper features nine apostles with three standing in the foreground. All figures have elongated faces and almond eyes – a characteristic feature of Jamini Roy paintings.

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