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Printmaking and professionalism in early twentieth century Bengal Fast, Adrienne J. 2015

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PRINTMAKING AND PROFESSIONALISMIN EARLY TWENTIETH CENTURY BENGALbyAdrienne J. FastB.A., University of Victoria, 1999M.A., School of Oriental and African Studies, 2000A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFDOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHYinThe Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies(Art History and Theory)THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA(Vancouver)June 2015© Adrienne J. Fast, 2015AbstractThe early twentieth century in Bengal was a time of great social transformation, when many new ways of being and making a living in the world became suddenly possible and negotiable. Amongst the new livelihoods finding expression in that time and place was thefigure of the modern, urban, professional Bengali printmaking artist, one who combined professional artistic training and certification with a determination to carve out spaces of economic and social opportunity for himself, often very difficult circumstances. Most artists struggled to forge successful careers at this time, but those who were engaged with print and printmaking media were able to take advantage of unique opportunities and werefaced with particular challenges. Each chapter of this thesis deals with particular images and objects, certain institutions and texts, in order to trace the modern, professional Bengali printmaking artist through the contested spaces of a rapidly professionalizing art world that was itself emerging and transforming in Bengal, particularly in the urban centreof Calcutta from roughly the 1920s to the 1940s. By looking closely at how the relationships between individualism and collectivity, and between village India and modern urban agglomerations, were represented and negotiated in and through print and printmaking media during this period, this thesis also complicates our understanding of how these twinned issues were connected to the experience of modernity and modern art in South Asia. Finally, this thesis addresses the Bengal Famine of 1943, its representation in the art of the period, and how its cataclysmic circumstances were a context in which theissues and themes discussed throughout this project manifest in particularly urgent ways.iiPrefaceSections of both chapters one and two are based on papers delivered at the Association forAsian Studies annual conference (Hawaii, March 2011) and at the University Art Association of Canada (Ottawa, October 2011). A preliminary version of chapter three was presented at the International Congress of Bengal Studies (Delhi, March 2010) and was published in the resulting conference proceedings, published from Calcutta in 2011. Aversion of chapter four was presented at the Annual Conference on South Asia in Madison, Wisconsin (October 2014). There is no universally accepted system for the transliteration of Bengali into English, so Ihave endeavoured to follow as closely as possible the standards adopted by the language institute of the American Institute of India Studies in Kolkata, where I pursued my Bengalistudies in 2010. However in some cases (especially with regards to proper names) where there is a commonly accepted spelling that differs from this standard, I have maintained the commonly used spelling. Hence the use of “Tagore” instead of “Thakur,” and “Dey” instead of “De,” for example.  When referring to present-day events or institutions I use the spelling Kolkata to refer to the capital of Bengal, which changed its name from Calcutta in 2001. When referring to colonial period events or institutions, I refer to the city as Calcutta.iiiTable of ContentsAbstract................................................................................................................................iiPreface.................................................................................................................................iiiTable of Contents...............................................................................................................ivList of Figures ....................................................................................................................viAcknowledgements ............................................................................................................xiDedication.........................................................................................................................xiii1.  Introduction....................................................................................................................11.1  Professional Artists in Late Colonial Bengal ...........................................................11.2  The Moment Before: Academic Realism and the Bengal School  ........................141.3  Shifting the Focus ....................................................................................................291.4  The Fine Art Exhibition as Differentiated Utility..................................................351.4.1  Awkward and Empty Display.................................................................361.5 Print as Exhibitionary Alternative...........................................................................421.6 Narrative Outline of Chapters .................................................................................492.  Artists’ Books of Prints................................................................................................532.1  Introduction .............................................................................................................532.2  The Objects of Analysis ...........................................................................................552.2.1 Call of the Himalayas .............................................................................612.2.2  Bengal Village in Wood Engraving........................................................692.3  Designed to Succeed..................................................................................................732.3.1 Price and Audience..................................................................................732.3.2 The Successful Translation of Print ........................................................822.3.3 Direct Advertising...................................................................................842.3.4  Between Battala and the Drawing-Room................................................872.3.5   Making Use of the Status of Literature..................................................932.4  The Rural and the Urban ........................................................................................98 2.4.1  The Tribal Trope: Images of Santals....................................................102 2.4.2 The No-Space of the Rural...................................................................1082.5  Conclusion...............................................................................................................111iv3: Print and the Individual.............................................................................................1133.1  From the Village to the Self ...................................................................................1133.2  The Discourse of Individualism and Collectivity in South Asia..........................1143.3  Individual Genres: Biography and Portraiture ...................................................1203.4  The Artist as Individual: Mukul Chandra Dey....................................................1253.5  Mukul Dey and Autobiography ............................................................................1333.5.1 My Pilgrimages to Ajanta and Bagh......................................................1363.5.2 My Reminiscences and Amar Katha.....................................................1433. 6  Portraits and the Individual in South Asia..........................................................1483.6.1  Twelve Portraits (1917).......................................................................1523.6.2. 20 Portraits (1943)...............................................................................1593.6.3 Portraits of Gandhi (1948)....................................................................1613.7   A Methodological Shift .........................................................................................1624: The Famine..................................................................................................................1674.1 Constellation, Rupture, Aporia...........................................................................................1674.2  A Brief History of the Famine................................................................................1714.3 The Invisible Famine...............................................................................................1864.3.1 The Modern Review and its Public.....................................................1984.4 The Famine in Representation ...............................................................................2094.4.1  Chittaprosad’s Famine.........................................................................2155.  Conclusion...................................................................................................................229Figures..............................................................................................................................237Bibliography....................................................................................................................267Appendix A: Original translations from Bengali into English of selections of Amar Katha by Mukul Chandra Dey (Kolkata: Visva Bharati Press, 1995). ......................305vList of Figures Figure 1.1: Art Student or Porter? cartoon....................................................................237Figure 1.2: Portrait of the Nizam of Hyderabad, Ravi Varma...................................237Figure 1.3: Shantanu and Ganga, Bamapada Banerjee ..............................................237Figure 1.4: Portrait of a Lady, attributed to Sashi Hesh..............................................238Figure 1.5: Portrait of Lord Ampthill, Ravi Varma .....................................................238Figure 1.6: Parthasarathi, Nandalal Bose......................................................................238Figure 1.7: Parash (Touch), Kshitindranath Majumdar.............................................239Figure 1.8: The Passing of Shah Jahan, Abanindranath Tagore................................239Figure 1.9: Boddhisatva Padmapani, Ajanta cave 1.....................................................239Figure 1.10: Buddha and Sujata, Abanindranath Tagore...........................................240Figure 1.11: Sita in Captivity in Lanka, Abanindranath Tagore.................................240Figure 1.12: Bharat Mata (Bangla Mata), Abanindranath Tagore.............................240Figure 1.13: Modernism in Art (cartoon), Devi Prosad Roy Chowdhury...................241Figure 1.14: Photo of the ISOA annual exhibition.......................................................241Figure 1.15: Photo of the ISOA annual exhibition ......................................................241Figure 1.16: Signed advertisement for Brooks Brand Tea..........................................242Figure 1.17: Signed advertisement for McDowell’s Cigars.........................................243Figure 1.18: Advertisement for Abinash Paints...........................................................243Figure 1.19: Advertisement for Abinash Paints...........................................................243Figure 1.20: Advertisement for Portrait of Sir John Anderson...................................243viFigure 1.21: Advertisement for Contemporary Woodcuts from India.........................243Figure 1.22: Advertisement for Woodcut .....................................................................244Figure 1.23: Advertisement for art lessons with Atul Bose.........................................244Figure 2.1: Front cover, Call of the Himalayas ............................................................244Figure 2.2: Title page, Call of the Himalayas................................................................244Figure 2.3: Colophon page, Call of the Himalayas ......................................................245Figure 2.4: Page 4, Call of the Himalayas......................................................................245Figure 2.5: Page 10, Call of the Himalayas ...................................................................245Figure 2.6: Page 8, Call of the Himalayas .....................................................................246Figure 2.7: Page 3, Call of the Himalayas......................................................................246Figure 2.8: Page 14, Call of the Himalayas....................................................................246Figure 2.9: Page 16, Call of the Himalayas....................................................................247Figure 2.10: Page 9, Call of the Himalayas....................................................................247Figure 2.11: Page 20 Call of the Himalayas...................................................................247Figure 2.12: Page 11, Call of the Himalayas..................................................................248Figure 2.13: Page 12, Call of the Himalayas..................................................................248Figure 2.14: Front Cover, Bengal Village in Wood Engraving...................................248Figure 2.15: Page 1, Bengal Village in Wood Engraving ............................................249Figure 2.16: Page 4, Bengal Village in Wood Engraving.............................................249Figure 2.17: Page 6, Bengal Village in Wood Engraving.............................................249Figure 2.18: Page 7, Bengal Village in Wood Engraving.............................................250Figure 2.19: Page 9, Bengal Village in Wood Engraving.............................................250Figure 2.20: Page 10, Bengal Village in Wood Engraving...........................................250viiFigure 2.21: Buddha and a Devotee, Sarada Charan Ukil...........................................251Figure 2.22: Untitled Prodosh Das Gupta ....................................................................251Figure 2.23: Bapuji, Sudhir Khastgir............................................................................251Figure 2.24: Charkha – The Symbol of Prosperity, Sudhir Khastgir........................252Figure 2.25: Harvest Time, Sudhir Khastgir.................................................................252Figure 2.26: Advertisement for Festive Season ...........................................................252Figure 2.27: Festive Season, Mukul Dey.......................................................................253Figure 2.28: Mahavira, Nrityalal Datta.........................................................................253Figure 2.29: Two Mynas, Nrityalal Datta......................................................................253Figure 2.30: Ghor Kali, Nrityalal Datta.........................................................................254Figure 2.31: Santal Girl, Bihar, Sunil Janah.................................................................254Figure 2.32: Lotus Pond, Devi Prosad Roy Chowdhury..............................................254Figure 2.33: Santal Family, Ramkinkar Baij ...............................................................254Figure 2.34: Fulki (Dream Lonely), Mukul Dey...........................................................255Figure 2.35: Santal Dance, Ramendranath Chakravorty............................................255Figure 2.36: A Lane at Kalighat, Adinath Mukerjee....................................................255Figure 3.1: Front Cover, My Pilgrimages to Ajanta and Bagh..................................256Figure 3.2: Front Cover (printed), My Reminiscences.................................................256Figure 3.3: Front cover (hand written), My Reminiscences........................................256Figure 3.4: Front Cover, Amar Katha............................................................................256Figure 3.5: General View of Ajanta, My Pilgrimages to Ajanta and Bagh.................257Figure 3.6: Female Figure (cave 2), My Pilgrimages to Ajanta and Bagh...................257Figure 3.7: Buddha Tempted (cave 1), My Pilgrimages to Ajanta and Bagh .............257viiiFigure 3.8: “With Compliments” card, Mukul Dey.....................................................258Figure 3.9: Christmas card, Mukul Dey ......................................................................258Figure 3.10: Catalogue insert with logo, Mukul Dey...................................................258Figure 3.11: Portrait of Abanindranath Tagore, Mukul Dey.....................................258Figure 3.12: Portrait of Jagdish Chandra Bose, Mukul Dey......................................259Figure 3.13: Portrait of Gooroo Dass Banerjee, Mukul Dey.......................................259Figure 3.14: Front cover, Portrait of Mahatma Gandhi...............................................259Figure 4.1: Map of Bengal, 1943 ...................................................................................260Figure 4.2: Buddha as Meditating Ascetic....................................................................260Figure 4.3: Sketch of The Dying Inayat Khan ..............................................................261Figure 4.4: Front Cover: Bengal Painters’ Testimony..................................................261Figure 4.5: Journey’s End, Abanindranath Tagore.....................................................261Figure 4.6: Mendicant, Nandalal Bose...........................................................................262Figure 4.7: Untitled, Jamini Roy...................................................................................262Figure 4.8: The Storm, Ramkinkar Baij........................................................................262Figure 4.9: Annapurna, Ramkinkar Baij......................................................................262Figure 4.10: Annapurna or The God Shiva, Nandalal Bose.........................................263Figure 4.11: Front cover, The Modern Review, September 1943................................263Figure 4.12: Advertisement for Mahalaxmi Cotton Mills...........................................263Figure 4.13: Bharat Mata popular print........................................................................264Figure 4.14: The Tragedy, Sailoz Mukherjee................................................................264Figure 4.15: Hunger, Khagen Roy ................................................................................264Figure 4.16: Save Them, Grow More Rice, Art in Industry poster..............................265ixFigure 4.17: Bimala, from “Hungry Bengal, Chittaprosad.........................................265Figure 4.18: “Midnapore As I Saw It,” Chittaprosad.................................................266Figure 4.19: Humanity Dehumanized, from “Hungry Bengal,” Chittaprosad..........266Figure 4.20: Unhonoured and Unsung, from “Hungry Bengal,” Chittaprosad........266xAcknowledgements No one completes a PhD without accumulating a long list of people to whom they are indebted. The number of people whose support has enabled me to complete this project completely overwhelms my ability to adequately express my thanks in the space allotted for this purpose, and I apologize to all those whose names do not appear below but to whom I am nevertheless extremely grateful. I thank the members of my thesis committee: my co-supervisors Anne Murphy and Katherine Hacker, as well as Marvin Cohodas and Harjot Oberoi. I also thank Bronwen Wilson, Maureen Ryan, and Joshua Mostow for their advice and involvement at various stages of the PhD process. In India I am grateful to the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences in Kolkata for allowing me to affiliate with them during the period of my field research in 2009 and 2010. I am also grateful to Satyasri Ukil in Santiniketan, and Rakesh Sahni in Kolkata, for generouslyallowing me to access the archives in their care and for indulging me with their lively and thoughtful conversation. I thank my Bangla instructors at the American Institute of India Studies in Kolkata: Protima Dutt, Prasenjit Dey and Indrani Bhattacharya. For their suggestions and assistancewith my Bangla-to-English translations, I thank Nilanjana Dutt, Smarita Sengupta, and Satyasri Ukil. At the National Library in Kolkata, I am grateful for the research assistance xiof Mahasweta Banerjee, and to the librarian Partha Ghosh. For their research assistance in London, I thank Heather Muckart, Carla Benzan, and John Cooper.  Without the financial support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Faculty of Graduate Studies at UBC, the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory at UBC, and the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute, this project would not have been possible. I am very grateful to these organizations for seeing potential in my project and choosing to support it. With no remaining available space to append individual rationales for my gratitude, I wishsimply to also state my heartfelt thanks to Shimanti Das, Coral Payne, Lauren Moffatt, Daud Ali, Christopher Thomas, Emma Flatt, Iqbal Sevea, P.K. Bhattacharya, Paula Sengupta, Ketaki Dutt, R. Siva Kumar, Nirmalendu Das, Tapati Guha-Thakurta, Pranabranjan Ray, Joyjeet Das Memorial School, and the entire community of graduate students with whom I have interacted during my PhD. Finally, I wish to express my love and gratitude to my family and friends who have been aconstant source of support and love, and without whom I could never have even imagined undertaking a project such as this.xiiDedicationFor my father, Eric Fastxiii1. Introduction1.1 Professional Printmaking Artists in Late Colonial Bengal This thesis examines some of the challenges and opportunities associated with performing the social role of the professional printmaking artist during the late colonial period in Bengal. This study focuses on the city of Calcutta particularly, and on the forming and transforming of new kinds of art worlds in that “second city” of the British Empire during the decades from roughly the 1920s to the 1940s.1 This project investigates some of the discourses and practices associated with the Bengali art world(s) at that time, and it seeks to better understand the range of social actors who inhabited and embodied its spaces. Thisthesis also seeks to shed light on particular types of material production and circulation of printed visual imagery in the social and historical context of late-colonial Bengal. European trading companies had established economic and military presences in the region as early as the sixteenth century, but large-scale European Company colonialism was not a reality in South Asia until the Battle of Plassey in 1757, after which the British East India Company essentially became a sovereign landowner, rent collector and major 1 Calcutta began to be referred to as the “second city of the British Empire” in the nineteenth century when its population exploded and it became a powerful financial and administrative centre. It continued to be refered to as such for much of the early twentieth as well, although often vying with other cities for the title. Sanjoy Chakravorty, “From Colonial City to Globalizing City?: The Far-From-Complete Spatial Transformation of Calcutta,” in Globalizing Cities: A New Spatial Order? (Malden: Wiley-Blackwell, 2000), 56-77. 1power holder in Bengal, in the north-eastern corner of the South Asian subcontinent. Those events ushered in a period of Company colonialism that lasted roughly a century, until the British crown and parliament dissolved the East India Company and took over direct control and administration of Britain’s South Asian territories following the 1857 Rebellion (also referred to as the Mutiny, or as the First Indian War of Independence). This in turn marked the beginning of a late colonial or “high empire” period that lasted almost another century, until India and Pakistan became independent in 1947. This thesis focuses on the region of Bengal during the late colonial period, specifically on the urban centre of Calcutta during the final decades before Independence and Partition. “Bengal” at that time encompassed both what is now the state of West Bengal in India andthe independent nation of Bangladesh. The early twentieth century British administrative designation known as “the Bengal Presidency” at times also included large areas of what are now neighbouring Indian states such as Orissa and Meghalaya, making “Bengal” a region that was both massive and incredibly diverse. Calcutta was Bengal’s economic and administrative hub; it was the first capital established by the British in India to meet the needs of their colonial state. At the end of the seventeenth century Calcutta had been a small trading outpost situated amongst fishing villages, but the city quickly grew and changed dramatically. By the early twentieth century it was a large, densely populated, fashionable, powerful metropolis that had pockets of both extreme wealth and appalling poverty. It was also the testing ground for new social and cultural experiences in the colonial context. Calcutta was the key stage on which British and South Asian cultures 2faced and mingled with each other, and where colonial infrastructures of power came into the greatest contact with South Asian lives. And critically, the urban agglomeration of Calcutta was always a landscape that was already flooded with economic émigrés from elsewhere: from Britain, from diverse rural communities across India, and also from elsewhere in Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Calcutta in the 1920s, 30s and 40s was a place of new technologies, new cultural adaptations, new fortunes, and newcomers. The late colonial period in Bengal (and especially in Calcutta) was characterised by social transformation and upheaval, which made it also a time of great possibility and opportunity: when there emerged a number of newly available social roles and ways of being in the world and in society. Sudipta Kaviraj has argued regarding the explosion of autobiographical texts written in Bengal during the late colonial period that many individuals at this time felt compelled to commit their life stories to writing because they in some way represented a remarkably new kind of life that even a few years previously would have been largely unthinkable.2 The current project focuses on one such remarkablynew social entity: the figure of the modern, urban, professional Bengali printmaking artist.Distinguished by his (very rarely “her”3) relationship with new forms of urban patronage, his aggressive self-promotion, his aspirations of social and professional respectability, his pursuit of professional education and certification, and his participation in a cultural 2 Sudipta Kaviraj, “The Invention of Private Life: A Reading of Sibnath Sastri’s Autobiography,” in Telling Lives in India: Biography, Autobiography and Life History, eds. David Arnold and Stuart Blackburn (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004), 93. 3 The vast majority (although not all) of those who made a living for themselves as professional printmaking artists in late-colonial Bengal were men, and thus when referring to a general category or phenomenon of such artists I use masculine pronouns wherever a gender-neutral plural proves awkward.3economy of urban leisure, the professional Bengali printmaking artist emerged in the earlydecades of the twentieth century as an important participant in the Bengali art world(s). Involvement in print and printmaking media (as well as exposure to specialized printmaking training) was particularly advantageous for those struggling to carve out artistic careers at this time; emergent and dynamic print cultures in Bengal offered new avenues for the circulation of both images and text, as well as opportunities to profit from such circulation, financially or otherwise. One of the most common characteristics of professional, modern, Bengali print artists in the early twentieth century was their determined pursuit of official art school education and certification, and the fact that many of them remained closely associated with institutions of art education for long periods throughout their careers. Artists at the time who were known to have committed the majority of their practice to printmaking media, such as Ramendranath Chakravorty (1902-1955), Mukul Dey (1895-1989), Somnath Hore(1921-2006), and Haren Das (1921-1993), all had long tenures at the Government School of Art in Calcutta in the early twentieth century, for example. Some of them had been students at the school themselves, but as instructors they collectively headed the printmaking and graphics departments, and were vice principal and principal from roughlythe 1920s to the 1950s.  4The Government School of Art in Calcutta was one of a handful of major art colleges in India that were established by the British in the middle of the nineteenth century.4 The Calcutta school was established first as a private institute of “Industrial Art” in 1854; a decade later was taken over by the British and renamed the Government School of Art. Its curriculum and goals have changed over the years but it is still an arts college today, currently known as the Government College of Art & Craft. In the 1920s, 30s and 40s what was then called the Government School of Art was one of the largest and most prestigious institutions of art education in India. Almost all of the professional print artists in Bengal in the early twentieth century were associated with the Government Art School at one time or another. But there were other important schools of art in Bengal as well, including the Albert Temple of Science and School of Art, the Jubilee Art Academy, and the Indian Art School, all in Calcutta.5 They all offered printmaking instruction and training in their curricula, and they employed print artists as instructors. The Indian Society of Oriental Art, also in Calcutta, began offering classes in painting in 1907 but never offered instruction in printmaking. However they were also known as an exhibiting organization and fine art publisher whose presses employed many professional, trained print artists throughout the period. Beyond the urban centre of Calcutta but also within Bengal, there was also an important centre of art education known as Kala Bhavan locatedin the village of Santiniketan. Established in 1919, Kala Bhavan was the visual art 4 Similar institutions were established in Madras (opened in 1850 as a private art school, and taken over and renamed the Government School of Industrial Arts in 1852), and in Bombay (established as the private Sir J.J. School of Art in 1857, and came under government purview in 1866). 5 J.C. Bagal, “History,” in Government College of Art & Craft Calcutta (Calcutta: Government College of Art & Craft, 1966), 38. 5department of the rural, utopian university project founded by Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), a Nobel-prize winning Bengali poet who later in life also became a visual artist of great renown. The school had a strong graphic and printmaking component from early on, with instructors bringing knowledge of Japanese and Western printmaking traditions to the campus, where they intersected with home-made equipment and indigenous craft traditions. What the existence of all of these institutions testifies to is a significant growth in official forms of arts education in Bengal at this time, and a corresponding growth in the population of art school graduates (many with specialist printmaking training) who then sought to make livings for themselves as professional artists.There are signs that the Bengali art world had difficulty accommodating this newly trainedartistic work force. A sense of how difficult it was to be a professional artist at that time is suggested by an article that appeared in The Englishman newspaper in Calcutta, in December of 1920. In it, the anonymous commentator argues that: “Strange as it may seem, the citizens of Calcutta get on—they have, indeed, got on all this time—without employing any artists. In the big schemes of life the artist has not been able to secure any place. Of late, he has been putting himself in the way, rather obtrusively, whether he is wanted or not.6More than three decades later the situation does not seem to have significantly improved. In the 1950s Ramanedranath Chakravorty was the Principal of the newly-renamed 6 The Englishman, 24 December 1920, n.p.6Government College of Art & Craft. In a 1952 article addressed to his fellow Principals of“Technical Institutions” in India, Chakravorty wrote despairingly of the options for graduates of art schools such as his: It is a surprising fact that there are yet so-called cultural people… who lack taste and have no hesitation to declare with pride that they do not care much for art in these days. …And we all know the State is always faced with great shortages of funds, especially for the case of art. If suchare the conditions, then what is the use of artists and sculptors of high merit who can only in the circumstances toil and waste their time for nothing? Why are art Institutes producing trained art students? What are they going to do in life if no one cares about their merit?7These questions were not rhetorical; the remainder of the article outlines very particular and specific policies and programs that Chakravorty hopes will improve the professional success of art school graduates. For example, he urges his fellow principals of other technical institutions to each establish an art gallery in their own schools, to be filled with work purchased by artists who had studied at nearby institutes of art education.8The growth in art school education during this period was due in part because official training and certification, such as a degree or government art school diploma, represented a prestige achievement associated with professionalism, success, and legitimacy. It could be a potential pathway to secure forms of employment and a middle-class lifestyle. Critically, such education was largely understood as being a barrier to involvement in manual labour. Those with some form of official qualifications usually sought out even 7 Ramendranath Chakravorty, “Art Galleries at Educational Institutions,” Quarterly Journal of the Association of Principals of Technical Institutions IV (1952): 239. 8 Ibid, 239-240. 7low-paying clerkships in offices rather than taking physical labour jobs that might pay higher wages. A series of articles and letters published in the Statesman newspaper in Calcutta over several months in 1926 bemoaned the fact that Indians with formal education and qualifications were either unsuited or unwilling to perform manual labour. One anonymous reporter summed up the prevailing attitude: “Professions which combine mental and physical exertions are not in much favour among the educated [Indian] classes,and even clerkship appeals to the popular taste more than pure physical labour.”9 Pursuit of institutional education, such as the earning of an art school certificate, could thus offer adegree of protection against being implicated in physical labour and thus could guarantee membership in at least the lower-rungs of the Bengali middle classes. Involvement in physical labour remained, and continues to remain, a defining characteristic of the lower-than-middle classes in Bengali society. The concern over being implicated in physical labour had a meaningful impact on those who sought to establish themselves as professional printmaking artists at this time. In eachof the chapters of this thesis I demonstrate how the relationship between art as labour and art as leisure was one that professional printmaking artists were in a position to skilfully negotiate. In the early twentieth century, elite and socially aspirant segments of Bengali society tended to subscribe to the notion that the creation of art and literature was something that occurred, in the words of historian Niharranjan Ray, “within a space 9 The Statesman, 11 December 1926, n.p.8beyond necessity and outside the limits of the requirements of human livelihood.”10 Those who dominated debates related to the transformation of the Bengali language at this time sought to more clearly distinguish between the terms kristhi and sanskriti (that is, betweencultivation and culture): wherein the former had connotations of everyday matters and, worse yet, physical labour, while the latter implied a more spiritual or cerebral endeavour of personal improvement, and which was understood to be the realm of art. Yet the various media of printmaking implicated labour–and especially the labour of the rural peasant–in ways that painting, for example, did not. Because of the physical carving of theprinting matrix, and because of the laboured manipulation of the printing press itself, artists who chose to specialize in printmaking staked a claim to a particular relationship with labour that was uniquely resonant to contemporary audiences, as the chapters that follow will argue. When considering the relationship between art and labour in early twentieth century Bengal, it is worth noting that when student strikes erupted at the Government School of Art in the late 1920s, one of the points of contention was a new rule requiring all students to physically carry items of their own equipment as they went out into the city to sketch from life. At least one political cartoon from the period (figure 1.1) capitalized on the controversy by depicting a heavily-burdened art student struggling to balance an easel, paints, and papers under an umbrella in the rain, with a Bengali caption asking the 10 Niharranjan Roy, Krishti kalcar sanskriti (Calcutta, Jijnasa, 1978), quoted in Andrew Sartori, Bengal in Global Concept History: Culturalism in the Age of Capital (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008), 3.9question (charged with class connotations) of whether this properly represented an art student or a porter?11 Unfortunately further details of this student strike and the institution of rules that sparked it do not emerge clearly from the archive. The fact that this particular rule was implemented at all implies that at least some students were of a socio-economic status that would have enabled them to have someone else carrying their materials for them, and therefore that they would have been invested in the elite notion of art as leisure. The reaction of the public, as represented by the class-conscious caption, suggests that the figure of the artist was largely understood as worthy of an elite and respected position, divorced from physical labour. The incident makes clear, however, that these categories and understandings were subject to negotiation and challenge in the late colonial period. The professional status of the Bengali print artist was inexorably connected on the one hand to his official art school training and certification, and on the other to his need to earn a living through his artistic practice, often supplemented by work as an art school teacher or administrator. In addition, the professional Bengali print artist of the early twentieth century was particularly implicated in the tensions between art as leisure and art as labour in large part because of the physical implications of printmaking’s processes (about which more will be said later). But printmaking in Bengal at this time was also in 11 The remainder of the Bengali caption reads: “Due to the proposed arrangement at Calcutta’s Government Art School, this is how the situation of the students will stand.” The exact date of this cartoon is unclear, as is the name of the publication in which it originally appeared; it is preserved in the Mukul Dey Archives justas a clipping. However, given that Dey took over the Principalship of the School of Art in 1927 and student strikes occurred shortly thereafter in protest of some of his new rules for the institution, it seems likely that this cartoon certainly dates form this period. There is a hand-written note in the archive that ascribes this cartoon a date of c.1928. It is also unclear what provisions were made for the carrying of equipment before the institution of this new rule, although it would appear in part that sketching from life out in the city environs was not as common a practice before the 1920s. 10some ways related to a craft- and caste-based pulp press industry that had emerged somewhat earlier, in the late 1800s in Calcutta. This pulp-press world in Calcutta is often referred to by the umbrella term battala. The artists that this thesis focuses on were familiar with the battala print world but were distanced from it in large part by (a) not being hereditarily tied to the profession, and (b) because their careers were characterized by a determined pursuit of official training and certification through one of the various new official schools of art that emerged in Bengal in the late-colonial period. Such educational credentials became a part of the collection of tools and strategies developed bythe modern, professional Bengali print artist in order to secure his particular type of careerand livelihood. This was the unique social predicament of the professional Bengali printmaking artist during this period. Suspended and balanced between his aspirations of social and economic success on the one hand and his relationship with manual labour and anxieties about unemployment on the other, this figure in many ways occupied a new, ambiguous space in the social geography of the erstwhile colonial capital of Calcutta.12 This figure was neither fully elite nor subaltern, neither in close contact with the systems of colonial power nor fully outside them, able to speak English but not always comfortable with it. The professional print artist occupied a socio-economic position in some ways similar to the low-level office clerks, petty merchants, teachers, some factory workers, and many others who constituted the rapidly expanding ranks of the urban middle classes. But in 12 Calcutta was the capital of British India until 1911, when the government shifted the capital to New Delhi.11other ways the professional print artist had access to more elite forms of sociality and education. This thesis sheds light on various strategies and means taken up by certain professional, Bengali print artists to help them better perform their social role, as well as the various cultural and institutional structures upon which such performance could be grafted. In the chapters that follow I shall demonstrate that the kinds of tools and opportunities that couldbe exploited and made productive in the hands of one type of artist were not always as useful to another, and that methods and approaches that were extremely useful at one pointin time could prove to be detrimental at others. In the chapters that follow I hope to demonstrate how one’s social position and status in the Bengali art worlds of the period were never, and could not be, fixed, but instead had to be constantly (re)performed and (re)negotiated. The performance of the social role of the professional, modern Bengali print artist–and indeed the very nature of identity as such–is inherently improvisational, responsive, and adaptive. My use of the term “performance” is based on a sense of the presentation and performanceof self in everyday life, strongly influenced by Bourdieu’s articulation of the performance of everyday practices and durable dispositions through the habitus. For Bourdieu, the habitus is what connects and mediates between social actors and the external structures of society. A set of dispositions, reactions, attitudes and experiences that is constantly in flux,the habitus is the “sense of the game” that allows social agents to deal with unanticipated 12circumstances and situations. In many ways this thesis is an attempt to locate and better understand the habitus of the professional Bengali printmaking artist of the late colonial period. This project seeks to articulate what practices were enacted by such individuals, within the limits offered by the prevailing social structures, which in turn helped to transform the structures of society into lived experience.13 Moreover, my articulation of the notion of the “performance” of the role of the professional printmaking artist is also strongly influenced by Judith Butler’s theorization of gender as an “embodied set of strategies” that needs to be constantly performed.14 In this project I focus on the embodied set of strategies performed by a certain group of individuals as well as a certain gender, since the vast majority of professional printmaking artists at this time in Bengal were male. It is the same sense of a cognitive-bodily orientation to the world that I invoke whenI describe the performance of the social role of the professional Bengali print artist in the early twentieth century, and it is the tools, opportunities and limitations experienced by these artists on which I seek to shed light. One of the most important arguments that I hope this thesis will make clear, is that the ability to make use of the opportunities and possibilities manifest in print and printmaking media was amongst the most crucial of those tools and strategies needed to navigate the precarious social circumstances of the professional artist.  13 Pierre Bourdieu, Outline of a Theory of Practice, trans. Richard Nice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977). 14 Judith Butler, “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory,” Theatre Journal, vol. 40 no. 4 (1988): 521. 131.2 The Moment Before: Academic Realism and the Bengal School  This project focuses particularly on the figure of the professional Bengali printmaking artist during the last decades of the late-colonial period. This time period, and this particular social figure, have so far received comparatively little attention in the related body of art historical literature, which for a long time tended to focus on nationalist debates that dominated different parts of the Bengali art world(s) in a somewhat earlier period, in the very late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries within the medium of painting. In this section I intend to summarize some of the significant art historical work that has shed light on that earlier moment, in order to establish the state of the current fieldof scholarship and to situate my own work in relation to it. This art history is critical to understanding the context for what emerged a few decades later, and it also shows how theexisting scholarly literature has set the stage for new contributions and approaches.15 In the latter half of the nineteenth century, in various urban centres across South Asia, there emerged a new category of upper-class, gentlemen artists who embraced and mastered the techniques of European, academic-style oil painting and the revelatory realism it made possible. At the time, realistic oil painting represented the vanguard of modern art in the region, particularly amongst socio-economically elite segments of 15 There has been a wide and diverse body of literature related to the nationalist Bengal School narrative, butthe field remains dominated by two major texts from the early 1990s. These are: Tapati Guha-Thakurta, The Making of a New ‘Indian’ Art: Artists, Aesthetics and Nationalism in Bengal, 1850-1920 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992); and Partha Mitter, Art and Nationalism in Colonial India 1850-1922: Occidental Orientations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994).  14society (both Indian and European). Tapati Guha-Thakurta has shown how in Calcutta in the nineteenth century the “exclusive, Europeanized art-world [began] to accommodate a select society of Indians as patrons and collectors, spreading among them the same tastes for decorating grand halls with portraits, landscapes, genre scenes or neo-classical compositions.”16 But it was not just the illusionism or the oil-on-canvas medium that thesegentlemen artists adopted that appeared so radically new in the South Asian context, it wasalso the manner in which they secured patronage and the ways they marketed and distributed their work. These gentlemen artists broke with earlier systems of permanent or semi-permanent courtly patronage that had earlier characterized the careers of professionalartists who, in the Mughal and post-Mughal eras in South Asia, were employed in the ateliers and workshops of regional courtly centres like Murshidabad. The gentlemen artistsof the nineteenth century instead worked for multiple patrons, marketing their work through available avenues of aristocratic recommendation and elite sociality. In some saysthese artists embodied some of the same hustle that characterized the professional printmaking artists of a half century later, managing their artistic practices as professional businesses and opening up possibilities for models of artists as free agents and as independent businessmen. But one key difference was that the nineteenth century gentlemen artists presented themselves as charismatic aristocrats, working for numerous wealthy clients, access to whom was undoubtedly aided by such artists’ own aristocratic claims and social behaviour. The gentlemen artists also sought to promote and market 16 Tapati Guha-Thakurta, The Making of a New ‘Indian’ Art: Artists, Aesthetics and Nationalism in Bengal, 1850-1920 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 46-47. 15their work through the radically new vehicles (in the South Asian context) of the fine art exhibition and the fine art society, venues generally less open to the less aristocratic professional printmaker of a later period. Also crucial was a difference in preferred medium; the nineteenth century gentleman artist usually worked exclusively in oil on canvas, knowing it was esteemed amongst his wealthy clientele. The printmaking artist of a half century later sought other audiences, through other media. The Keralan artist Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906), who made a (very comfortable) living carrying out commissions for royal and aristocratic Indian families and for many powerfulEuropean patrons (figure 1.2), is perhaps the most famous example of this type of gentleman artist from the latter half of the nineteenth century in India. But there were also Bengali artists who charted similar career paths at the same time, including Sashi Kumar Hesh (1869-?), Jamini Ganguly (1876-1953), and Bamapada Banerjee (1851-1932). Like Ravi Varma, Jamini Ganguly was born into an elite family. Varma was born into a minor branch of royal family of Travancore in Kerala, whereas Ganguly was related to the illustrious Tagore family, in many ways the most famous and renowned family of Bengali society. They also had similar educational experiences, with both receiving their earliest training at home from private tutors. Also like Ravi Varma, Bamapada Banerjee collaborated with commercial printing presses to reproduce many of his oil-on-canvas paintings into cheap oleograph format.17 In doing so, both artists broadened their 17 Jyotindra Jain, Indian Popular Culture:’ The Conquest of the World as Picture’ (New Delhi: National Gallery of Modern Art, 2004), 22. 16audiences beyond those who could afford to commission large canvases, in the process helping to foster a wide popularity for intimately realistic “portraits” of Hindu gods and goddesses that continues to fuel a thriving bazaar-economy market for images and visual culture in South Asia to the present day (figure 1.3). Unlike Ravi Varma, Sashi Hesh dared to break the taboo against caste Hindus travelling overseas. Although Varma won great international acclaim for the paintings he exhibited at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exhibition in Chicago, he himself could never be compelled to travel abroad for fear of losing his caste status. Hesh on the other hand travelled abroad extensively; he went to Italy on a scholarship to study art, lived in Paris, and was the first Indian to be elected to the Royal Scottish Academy. He was even rumoured to have lived a life of “genteel poverty” for a time somewhere in Canada.18 But during intervening periods when Hesh lived and worked in India, his career charted a very similar path to Varma’s, with both artists achieving fame and success in their own lifetimes particularly for their ability to create flattering, realistic, oil-on-canvas portraits of elite patrons drawn from both the princely and aristocratic Indian class and from amongst the upper ranks of the European population (figures 1.4 and 1.5). In all these matters related to patronage and style, patterns of exhibition and distribution, as well as choice of style and medium, this new breed of gentlemen artists working in Bengal in the late nineteenth century (and in some cases well into the twentieth) represented a significant break from what had come before. 18 Partha Mitter, Art and Nationalism in Colonial India 1850-1922: Occidental Orientations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 114-118. According to Mitter, Mukul Dey recounted meeting Hesh in Canada in 1917. However, Dey was only in Canada once in his life: briefly in September 1916, when the ship he had sailed on across the Pacific docked in Vancouver. Dey almost immediately travelled on to Seattle and although he did spend much of 1917 in America he does not appear to have returned to Canada before sailing back to India from San Francisco.  17But at the turn of the twentieth century the tide was turning against academically realistic, oil-on-canvas painting in the conservative European tradition. Critics instead began to champion what they saw as a radically new style of modern Indian painting, a style that became known as the Bengal School.19 Epitomized by the early work of Abanindranath Tagore (1871-1951) and several of his immediate students and imitators, including Kshitindranath Majumdar (1891-1975), Asit Kumar Haldar (1890-1964), and the early work of Nandalal Bose (1882-1966), the Bengal School style was formally characterized by hazy, watercolour washes, a certain stylization and flattening of the picture plane that eschewed attempts at strict naturalism, and a self-conscious drawing of stylistic inspirationfrom specific sources that included illuminated Mughal manuscripts, Japanese wash paintings, medieval Celtic manuscripts, and the ancient Buddhist murals that had been “discovered” by the British at places like Ajanta and Bagh in Western India in the early nineteenth century.In terms of subject matter, the Bengal School tended towards allegorical and romanticized mytho-poetic scenes, many of which were drawn from Vedic literature and the Hindu epics. In Nandalal Bose’s Parthasarathi, (figure 1.6), for example, the artist has depicted the critical moment just before the battle of Kurukshetra in the Mahabharata, wherein Krishna as charioteer to Arjuna delivers his famous sermon on dharma that forms the core19 The Bengal School has also been referred to as the “Neo-Bengal School,” the “new Indian art,” and the “new Indian style.” 18of the Bhagavad Gita. In another example—a painting called Parash or Touch by Kshitindranath Majumdar—an ethereal Radha and Krishna are depicted engaged in love play in a lyrical landscape (figure 1.7). Some later critics have accused the Bengal School of harbouring an implicit Hindu bias and representing Hindu culture as Indian culture; while there is something to these claims, it nevertheless appears that both Buddhism and Islam were also plumbed for inspiration by the Bengal School artists, not only in terms of subject matter but also in matters of style, format, and medium. Abanindranath Tagore is said to have become enthralled with Mughal miniature painting when he was exposed to the collection of E.B. Havell, and he self-consciously drew on the tradition as inspiration for some of his later work.20 His The Passing of Shah Jahan (figure 1.8), for example, wasintended to represent a revitalization of the tradition of Mughal miniature painting; its intimate format recalls the illuminated manuscript tradition of the Mughal period, while the treatment of colour evokes their burnished surfaces. The painting depicts the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in his final prison in Agra Fort, gazing out at the Taj Mahal in the distance. It was exhibited to great acclaim at the elaborate pageant of colonialism known as the 1903 Delhi Durbar.21 20 E.B. Havell is sometimes credited with making Tagore aware of India’s own indigenous painting traditions, but this claim seems largely embedded in Havell’s own somewhat paternalistic claims to have ‘discovered’ Tagore as the ideal modern Indian artist. See, for example, Guha-Thakurta, The Making of a New ‘Indian’ Art, 153-155. 21 Durbars were a common political practice during the Mughal period, in which the various semi-independent kings and princes would perform homage to the Mughal emperor and acknowledge his authority. The British adopted many of the cultural and political practices of the Mughals, including the staging of durbars. Three durbars were held during the British colonial period, in 1877, 1903, and 1911. The modern durbars included exhibitions of Indian art, with prizes awarded in various categories. The Passing ofShah Jahan was awarded a silver medal at the 1903 durbar.  19The Buddhist caves at Ajanta were also a clear source of stylistic and formal influence. The sinewy arcs of fingers and eyebrows evident in the previously mentioned painting by Nandalal Bose, Parthasarathi, clearly echo the Ajanta murals; this is clear when the work is compared to, for example, the painting of the Bodhisattva Padamapani from cave one at Ajanta (figure 1.9). Not only in the flowing contours and arc of lines, but even in the muted hues that recall the weathered surfaces of the ancient caves, Bose has clearly soughtto evoke Ajanta in this work. And while in this instance Bose has drawn on a moment from the Buddhist period of Indian history for his stylistic and formal inspiration in order to then illustrate a story from one of the great Hindu epics, we also find many examples ofBuddhist subject matter in the art of the Bengal School. Abanindranath for example, in addition to representing moments of Mughal history, also achieved fame for his painting of Buddha and Sujata (figure 1.10), depicting the young woman who offered a bowl of milk and rice to the Buddha when he renounced the ascetic path. Although the Bengal School may have been connected to Hindu identity and politics of the period, we can infer that both Buddhism and Islam were also of popular interest for both the Bengal School artists and its supporters. The painting of Buddha and Sujata was also exhibited at the 1903 Durbar to great acclaim alongside The Passing of Shah Jahan, and was also generously awarded. In the first decade of the twentieth century, the Bengal School style was heralded in books and articles, and in the Government Art School’s curricula, by the likes of Ananda Coomaraswamy, E.B. Havell, Sister Nivedita, Sri Aurobindo and others, as the 20appropriate expression of Indian modernity in the visual arts. Rejecting the social, cultural and aesthetic hierarchies that had previously accepted the privileged status of oil-on-canvas painting and Western ideals of verisimilitude, the Bengal School instead appeared to offer a way for artists to be both modern and Indian without adopting or endorsing western aesthetic values and assumptions. Unlike the large, ornately framed canvases designed to hang in elite salons and drawing rooms, which had been the favoured format of the gentlemen artists of the previous century, the Bengal School instead favoured small-scale works on paper that were intended to be viewed with great intimacy. Eschewing the status previously afforded to oil painting, the Bengal School became famous for its preference for a unique watercolour wash technique that was achieved powerful effects of atmosphere and mood. These effects are particularly evident in figure 1.11, for example, in which Sita from the Ramayana is depicted as seemingly emerging from and dissolving into an atmospheric cloud of green, blue and black that form the walls of her prison. This image exemplifies the watercolour wash technique that soon became a signature element of the Bengal School style, and which allowed artists to achieve a sense of depth and distance within the picture plane without having to resort to the linear perspective associated with the Western artistic tradition. For such reasons related to subject matter and style, execution and medium, the Bengal School style appeared to its champions to eschew the influences and standards of western art in favour of a modernism with indigenous roots and influences. It was celebrated as a truer expression of a supposedly innate Indian sensibility and spirituality in modern art. 21Also crucial to the Bengal School’s success was the endorsement it received from key newspapers and journals of the day. Influential editors such as Ramananda Chatterjee wielded enormous influence. Much valuable scholarship has already shed light on publications like Chatterjee’s Bengali-language magazine Prabasi and its English-language counterpart The Modern Review, which combined contemporary political, economic and cultural analysis with what was then the cutting edge of available technologies in the region for image reproduction. Such publications became central to thetracking and pushing forward of a cultural shift away from the prominence of gentlemen artists in the academically realistic tradition in the late nineteenth century, towards the eventual “triumph” of the Bengal School style as the hegemonic cultural expression of the first decades of the twentieth century.22 The market for the older style of work was drastically shrinking as an ever-growing discourse in such publications labelled it as beingan anachronism and a misguided and uncritical pursuit of mimicry: both mimicry of natureand mimicry of European standards of fine art. Such efforts, the supporters of the Bengal School argued, could only result in a creative dead end and a failure to achieve true modern expression in the visual arts. In effect, during the process of repudiating the authenticity of an earlier kind of modern art, the awareness of an other way of being both modern and Indian in the visual arts was effectively imagined and made visible. 22 See, for example, Tapati Guha-Thakurta, The Making of a New ‘Indian’ Art: Artists, Aesthetics and Nationalism in Bengal, 1850-1920 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 139; and Partha Mitter, Art and Nationalism in Colonial India 1850-1922: Occidental Orientations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 121.  22The discourse of the group of critics who closed ranks around the Bengal School was in part connected to the cultural and aesthetic philosophy espoused by the Japanese scholar and art critic Kakuzo Okakura (also known as Okakura Tenshin), who visited Calcutta andmet many of the artists and critics related to the Bengal School. Okakura proposed a spiritually united Asia as a counterbalance to Western hegemony, famously declaring that “Asia is One,” and arguing that all Asian civilizations displayed a common “love for the Ultimate and Universal” that distinguished them from (and according to his paradigm, rendered them superior to) “those maritime peoples of the Mediterranean and the Baltic who love to dwell on the Particular, and to search out the means, not the end, of life.”23 Okakura’s formula for a modern aesthetics thus rejected the naturalism of (certain) European art traditions in favour of a romanticized, stylized form that supposedly reflecteda superior Asian spirituality. In this argument we can recognize an example of strategic essentialism24 that would have added significantly to the prestige of the Bengal School at that time.  The Bengal School’s remarkable rise to prominence was also significantly tied up with thegrowth of the urban, intellectual, upper-middle class bhadralok segment of Bengali society, as well as with the specifically anti-colonial movements for self-rule (swaraj) and own-goods (swadeshi) that dominated much of bhadralok public life in Bengal in the late-23 Kakuzo Okakura, Ideals of the East: The Spirit of Japanese Art (New York: E.P. Dutton & Co), 1. 24 Here I am drawing on Gayatri Spivak’s concept of “strategic essentialism” as an often necessary means bywhich oppressed groups (temporarily) assume a general, essential identity in order to be able to act, “in a scrupulously visible political interest." See Gayatri Spivak, The Spivak Reader: Selected Works of Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, eds Donna Landry and Gerald MacLean (New York: Routledge, 1996), 214. 23colonial period. Bhadralok literally translates as “gentlemen,” but it denotes more broadly an upper-middle class (even aristocratic), urban, intellectual Bengali community that emerged in the late-colonial period.25 During the nineteenth century in Bengal (and particularly in Calcutta) the bhadralok class emerged as a significant demographic of English-educated, economically privileged, socially progressive, reform-minded Bengalis who had often gained wealth and social status through their business and personal dealingswith the British. While in theory anyone who could demonstrate sufficient wealth and social standing could become bhadralok, in social practice the category tended to be dominated by landowners from elite castes such as the brahmins and kayasths. Many of these English educated, reform-minded bhadralok who were denied access to direct political participation due to the racialized nature of the colonial system channelled their energies into the cultural realms, resulting in a great outpouring of literary, scientific and social reform movements that is collectively referred to as the “Bengal Renaissance” or “Bengali Renaissance,” and of which the Bengal School style of painting is often considered to be a late manifestation. Setting aside the myriad implicit—and explicit—problems involved in applying a term like “renaissance” to a colonial South-Asian context, we can nevertheless acknowledge that in many ways the Bengali Renaissance constituted a powerful elite response to, and critique of, colonial rule. It is possible to admire and pay due respect to the various achievements of the so-called Bengali 25 The feminine equivalent of the masculine bhadralok is bhadramohila (“gentlewoman”). However, just as in English the masculine term “mankind” often stands as the general designation for all people, so too does the Bengali bhadralok refer to an entire socio-economic class, including both its male and female constituents. Nevertheless it must be acknowledged that the access to westernized education, patterns of employment, and other social markers that designated one as bhadralok were decidedly more available to men than they were to woman, and thus bhadralok culture has always been highly gendered. 24Renaissance while also considering how those achievements were in many ways a phenomenon that implicated only the most elite segments of society. The Bengali Renaissance was largely the prerogative of the upper- and upper-middle classes, but its products nevertheless continued to be intensely felt and influential in Bengal throughout the late-colonial period, and they continued to test the edges and limits of colonial hegemony through means that included the visual arts.  In 1905, for example, when the British colonial government first proposed to divide the large and heavily populated province of Bengal into two separate administrative units, the policy was officially promoted as a strategy intended to bring about greater administrative efficiency. But in separating the Muslim-majority East Bengal from the Hindu-majority West Bengal, the deeply unpopular policy was generally understood at the time as an attempt on the part of the British to divide and rule. Moreover, the decision to partition Bengal was widely interpreted as a form of punishment for the ongoing intellectual and political ferment in Bengal at the time. When the partition went into effect, it sparked the first major attempt on the part of an Indian nationalist movement to mobilize popular and widespread protest, first in the form of strikes and economic boycotts of British-made goods (under the banner of swadeshi), but also eventually with acts of targeted violence and terrorism intended to weaken and undermine British colonial rule.26 In the mass 26 Although this first division of Bengal was eventually repealed in 1911, it effectively prefigured the more permanent Partition of 1947, when West Bengal became a state in independent India, and East Bengal became East Pakistan (and after 1971, the independent nation of Bangladesh). For more on Bengali swadeshi, Sumit Sarkar’s The Swadeshi Movement in Bengal (new edition, Ranikhet: Permanent Black, 2010), remains the best introduction to the history of the movement. See also the more recent collection of seminar papers edited by Tapati Sengupta and Shreela Roy, Contesting Colonialism: Partition and 25protests against the 1905 Bengal partition that erupted, the Bengal School provided a visual expression of “cultural and national aspirations, for independence and emancipationfrom foreign rule.”27 During this period Abanindranath Tagore painted his iconic vision of Bharat Mata (“Mother India,” figure 1.12), as a saffron-clad and multi-armed goddess figure clutching the symbols of emancipation and independence: a handful of rice paddy denoting self-sufficiency in food production; a bolt of homespun khadi cloth representing independence from the cheap English-made textiles that were flooding the Indian market; a palm-leaf book, indicating indigenous systems of learning and education; and finally, a string of prayer beads, meant to symbolize India’s spiritual strength. It was this painting, which Tagore originally envisioned as Bangla Mata or “Mother Bengal,” that was hurriedly printed onto banners and paraded through the streets of Calcutta at the head of mass demonstrations.28 So galvanizing did this image prove to be for the anti-British movement more generally in South Asia, that it was later rebranded as “Mother India.” Despite the Bengal School’s interest in Buddhist and Islamic history and art, it was the galvanizing use of images like the Bharat Mata that cemented its reputation as a Hindu movement in the minds of many critics; the multi-armed goddess and saffron robes of Hinduism identified this as a specifically Hindu figure, meant to stand for all of India. Swadeshi Re-visited (New Delhi: Macmillan India, 2007). For a period account of the relationship between art and swadeshi, see Ananda Coomaraswamy, Art and Swadeshi. (Madras: Ganesh, 1912).27 B.C. Sanyal, “Contemporary Indian Art: A Survey,” in Sixty Years of Writing on Art & Crafts in India (from Rooopa-lekha 1928-1988), ed. Ram Dhamija, 153-160 (New Delhi: Sterling Publishers, 1988), 153.  28 Guha-Thakurta, The Making of a New ‘Indian’ Art, 259. While the nature of the Bengal School’s relationship with nationalism more broadly has begun to be productively complicated in the related literature(as will be argued later) its association with Bengali swadeshi is still very much in tact and unchallenged. Note, for example, that Tagore’s Bharat Mata illustrates the cover of the latest edition of Sumit Sarkar’s seminal history, The Swadeshi Movement in Bengal (new edition, 2010). 26As meteoric as had been the Bengal School’s rise to fame at the turn of the twentieth century, by the 1920s fashions had shifted, the Bengal school quickly began to lose its prestige position and cultural capital. Some scholars have pointed to increasing familiarity amongst Bengali artists at this time with cubist and surrealist experimentations that were happening in European painting as being largely responsible for this cultural shift that rendered the Bengal School style increasingly unpopular. This increasing familiarity is said to have been made possible in part by certain watershed exhibitions in Calcutta29 and through the increased availability of international art journals. But this decline in prestige was also connected to the fact that, while the swadeshi movement had by this time been largely reborn as a nation-wide campaign of preference for indigenous goods under Gandhi’s leadership (focused particularly on the production ofhome-spun khadi cloth30), swadeshi’s earlier incarnation as a Bengal-specific, radical revolutionary movement had by this time mostly burned out, leaving behind it “a feeling of disappointment, even anticlimax, at the blighting of so many hopes.”31 Coupled with a widespread bitterness and weariness with the intense violence (including assassinations, 29 For example, the December 1922 exhibition at the Indian Society of Oriental Art in Calcutta of various European Bauhaus artists including Kandinsky and Klee is often discussed as a transformative moment for modern art in Bengal. See, for example, Partha Mitter, The Triumph of Modernism: India’s Artists and the Avant-Garde, 1922-47 (London: Reaction Books, 2007), 15-18.30 There is a voluminous literature on Gandhi’s khadi-focussed swadeshi movement, but a few recent texts offer a particularly useful introduction to the field. See, for example: Lisa Trivedi, Clothing Gandhi’s Nation: Homespun and Modern India (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2007); Rahul Tamagundam, Gandhi’s Khadi: a History of Contention and Conciliation (New Delhi: Orient Longman, 2008); and Peter Gonsalves, Clothing For Liberation: A Communication Analysis of Gandhi’s Swadeshi Revolution (Los Angeles: SAGE, 2010). 31 Sarkar, The Swadeshi Movement in Bengal, 419. 27bombings, riots, and brutal government and police oppression) that marked especially the later days of Bengali swadeshi, this sense of disillusionment had the effect of making the earnestness of the Bengal School’s nationalism seem suddenly one-dimensional and naive.In other words, what had been an advantage in 1900 was more of a liability by 1920 or 1930. For much of the rest of the twentieth century, the Bengal School would draw accusations of excessive sentimentality, poor draughtsmanship, racial essentialism, and either Bengali and Hindu chauvinism (amongst other things). Nevertheless, it is important to remember that especially within elite circles, for the first two decades of the twentieth century the Bengal School represented the dominant authority on what modern Indian art was supposed and presumed to be. Indeed, at the moment when the Bengal School style was beginning to lose its avant-garde relevancy in Bengal, it suddenly and simultaneously acquired the status of a national, institutional authority. In the 1920s, many of the first generation of Bengal School artists who had worked together in Calcutta in the 1900s and 1910s (particularly those who had studied under Abanindranath Tagore when he was serving as Vice-Principal of the Government School of Art from 1905 to 1915) began leaving Calcutta in order to take up key positions as principals and instructors at various institutes of art education across the subcontinent, taking with them many of the formal tenets of the Bengal School style which they then imparted through both personal example and institutional curricula to virtually the entire 28next generation of institutionally trained artists in South Asia.32 Thus, it was at the momentwhen the visual or formal characteristics of the Bengal School were being institutionalizedand canonized through India's evolving network of art schools and colleges, that as an avant-garde movement it became watered down and emptied of meaning through endless and formulaic repetition by art school graduates of varying degrees of competency all across the subcontinent. As Pierre Bourdieu has pointed out, such is the nature of avant-garde movements everywhere: controlled and maintained by those in power in society, if the avant-garde aesthetic is claimed and mobilized by the lower classes then elites will always shift their definition of “taste” in order to disassociate themselves from the masses.33 1.3 Shifting the Focus This is a key moment in the art historical narrative, and it is here in the histories of the decades immediately following the decline of the Bengal School where the current project seeks to intervene. A valuable body of art historical scholarship, dominated particularly bythe work of Partha Mitter and Tapati Guha-Thakurta, has already done much to aid in our understating of the late nineteenth and very early twentieth centuries of Bengali art 32 Samarendranath Gupta became Vice-Principal of the Mayo School of Art in Lahore, Sailendranath Dey worked at the Bharat Kala Bhavan in Benares and later at the Jaipur School of Arts, Asit Kumar Halder taught at Santiniketan, Jaipur, and Lucknow, Manindra Bhushan Gupta taught in Colombo, Promod Kumar Chatterjee taught art in Masulipatam, and Deviprosad Roy Chowdhury taught at the Madras School of Arts. All of them had been students of Tagore. See Tapati Guha-Thakurta, Abanindranath Known and Unknown: The Artist versus the Art of His Times (Kolkata: Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, 2009), 18.33 Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste (Cambridge: Harvard UniversityPress, 1984). 29history. That scholarship has tended to focus on nationalistic, swadeshi narratives that relate a “rise and fall” narrative for the Bengal School. Building on and from this earlier scholarship, this thesis seeks to shift the focus towards a later period of the late 1920s to the early 1940s. It was during this period that the cracks in the hegemony of the Bengal School were becoming increasingly apparent, and artists were finding other and alternative ways to be both modern and Indian in the visual arts. There was a time, until even quite recently, when the decades of the 1920s to the 1940s were still largely unexplored in Indian and Bengali art history. But recently a new body of work has emerged that seeks to remedy this paucity of literature, looking closely at changes that occurred in the wake of the Bengal School’s popularity, and asking questions about South Asian modernity in ways that do not necessarily relate straightforwardly to the issues of nationalism and anti-colonialism that were so well elaborated in earlier scholarship. Tapati Guha-Thakurta, for example, has recently drawn attention to the need to complicatethe easy equation between Abanindranath Tagore and burgeoning nationalism in the visualarts, noting that the Bengal School style for which he is most famous was really only a brief, early stage in his career. She sheds light instead on “alternative Abanindranaths,” and on the post-nationalist and anti-nationalist trends that manifest particularly in his later bodies of work from the 1920s, 30s and 40s.34 Guha-Thakurta notes that the common perception of Abanindranath as a nationalist artist is due in large part to the fact that his 34 See, for example, Tapati Guha-Thakurta, Abanindranath, Known and Unknown: The Artist versus the Art of His Times. Kolkata: Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, 2009); and “A Master Rediscovered,”in Bengal Art: New Perspectives, ed. Samik Bandyopadhyay (Kolkata: Pratikshan, 2010).  30later-career works, having been bequeathed by the Tagore family to the Rabindra Bharati Society in Calcutta, have remained there in storage, unavailable for public viewing, and thus have remained largely unknown. She notes that a reconsideration of Tagore and his work has been made possible in part by a recent commemorative volume that for the first time provides comprehensive documentation of Tagore’s paintings from all periods.35In a similar move, art historian Debashish Banerji, who happens to be the great-grandson of Abanindranath Tagore, has recently reframed the arguments about his ancestor’s nationalism instead towards a consideration of Tagore’s “alternate nation.”36 Banerji argues that Abanindranath in fact worked against any kind of overarching identity formation based on an imagined community of the nation state, in favour of a fragmented subject of modernity that incorporated multiple, overlapping and at times contested narratives related to many definitions and understandings of “nation.” Banerji’s argument is consistent with trends in scholarship that have complicated the meta-narratives of nationalism, for example, by focusing instead on the fragment. In the Bengali context, Partha Chatterjee’s work suggesting how nationalism and modernity in Asia and Africa existed always and already in a state of comparison and difference from western identity, is crucial to this body of scholarship that nevertheless locates within the fragment–that is, within the state of difference–a position of power, opportunity, and flexibility.37 Banerji’s re-examination of Abanindranath Tagore makes interesting contributions in this direction, 35  R. Siva Kumar, Paintings of Abanindranath Tagore (Kolkata: Pratikshan, 2008). 36 Debashish Banerji, The Alternate Nation of Abanindranath Tagore (New Delhi: Sage Publications, 2010).37 Nationalist Thought and the Colonial World: A Derivative Discourse? (London: Zed, 1986); The Nation and its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993).31but for the purposes of the current project I am particularly intrigued by Banerji’s suggestion that Abanindranath resisted and countered the hegemony of western, post-Enlightenment modernity by seeking a critical balance between the forces of Western, individual autonomy on the one hand and South Asian, communitarian inter-subjectivity on the other. As I will argue in chapter three, this delicate balance between the individual and the larger community was crucial for the performance of the role of the modern, professional, non-aristocratic, Bengali printmaking artist. Partha Mitter, whose work on the earlier nationalist narratives was seminal in the field, has also recently made a major contribution to the art history of the 1920s to the 1940s. In his most recent book, The Triumph of Modernism: India’s Artists and the Avant-Garde 1922-1947, Mitter demonstrates that the hegemony of the Bengal School style was never complete or uncontested, with strains of conservative, academic-style European realism continuing to enjoy a certain popularity and wherewithal (for example, in the realistic work of successful portraitists like Atul Bose) alongside alternative experimentations into cubism and abstraction (particularly in the work of Abanindranath’s elder brother Gaganendranath Tagore). Mitter’s contribution to the project of undermining Euro-centric meta-narratives of modernism and modernity by telling rich and complex histories “from the periphery” is an important one, but what I find most interesting about this recent work from Mitter are the arguments he makes about the trend towards primitivism in Indian art during the late colonial period. While he argues that this primitivism charted unique and local trajectories in the South Asian context that connected at times to both a Gandhian 32veneration of village life and an Orientalist search for a primitive Other amongst South Asia’s tribal communities, he nevertheless seeks to connect this primitivizing tendency more generally to a globally-felt discourse of the period, characterized by a common “romantic longing of complex society for the simplicity of pre-modern existence.”38 The issue of primitivism, especially as it relates to an idealized vision of village life in the minds of urban Bengalis, is especially important for the current project because the relationship between the village and the city in South Asian modernity is a particularly fraught one. Many aspects of this tension will be taken up in greater detail in the followingchapters.Like this more recent wave of scholarship, the current project also seeks to shed light on the art history of Bengal in the final decades of the late colonial period. However, what even these latest contributions to the field have in common (and where the current project seeks to differentiate itself) is that they too are concerned with stylistic, aesthetic, and political ideologies that tended to manifest within the painting genres of the Bengali art world. In other words, the valuable, recent scholarship of Guha-Thakurta, Banerji, Mitter and others have still tended to focus on, and thereby privilege, forms of art that were manifest primarily, if not exclusively, within painting. But what if we could shine a light on modern Bengali art that was experienced in and through other media? What other kinds of images could also have been resonant in the 38 Partha Mitter, The Triumph of Modernism, 33. 33modern social world of Bengal at this time? This study seeks to complicate what we can understand about the experience of being a modern Bengali artist at this time by paying greater attention to some of the quotidian negotiations, the creative and performative choices, and the institutional or structural limits that were experienced by other artists whospecialised in printmaking and who were of rather more modest economic and social backgrounds, but who were nevertheless also successful in carving out spaces of social possibility for themselves as modern artists in Bengal at this time.  I argue that for such artists, the question of being both modern and Bengali may have had little to do with issues of westernization versus tradition, of oil versus watercolour, or of abstraction versus realism, such as were played out in the academic realism versus Bengal School debates. I will show that the modernity of these artists, and the work they generated, was more invested in issues such as the ways that objects and images circulatedand transacted, and how artists could manage to both create and connect with new kinds ofaudiences. I demonstrate how the modernity of many professional Bengali artists at this time was vested in new, modern, artistic lifestyles and identities that they were able to adopt, negotiate and manage through the media of print and printmaking. I will argue that the various material and historical possibilities manifest in printing and printmaking in latecolonial period in Bengal proved to be essential tools for such artists, as both social and artistic practice. But first, in the next section I establish why struggling professional artistsin late-colonial Bengal had to hustle and seek out alternative strategies and means through printing and printmaking in the first place. I do this by closely examining the world of 34exhibition display and commercial art sales at the time, in order to show how these represented a set of tools and strategies which largely failed to meet the needs of professional printmaking artists at this time. 1.4 The Fine Art Exhibition as Differentiated UtilityThe nature of the art world experienced by professional Bengali artists of the late colonial period was perhaps most vividly articulated in the way that they turned to alternative means and strategies for artistic promotion and distribution in order to make a successful living. Their modes of interaction and audience-building were dramatically different from other, arguably more dominant, manifestations of the emerging Bengali art world of this period: particularly those of the fine art exhibition and art institute display. As I will argue,although there was a reasonable smattering of exhibitionary opportunities at this time in Bengal, each with its own set of social exclusions and inclusions, the importance of these as so-called “watershed moments” in Bengali art history have been largely overstated, since the social space of the fine art exhibition was geared only towards highly elite, bhadralok segments of society, and had very little to offer or communicate to those of differing socio-economic statuses. I will then propose that the professional, non-aristocratic Bengali artist had to turn to alternative means and strategies of artistic promotion and distribution in order to make a successful living at this time, and that chief amongst these was the ability to actively participate in and engage with local print media 35and technologies. But first, a brief reminder of why such alternative means and strategies had to be developed and utilized by the professional working Bengali artist in the first place.  1.4.1 Awkward and Empty DisplayIn a cartoon (figure 1.13) drawn by Devi Prosad Roy Chowdhury39 (1899-1975) in the 1940s for the journal Swatantra and later published in a collection of the artist’s drawings titled Ironies and Sarcasms, an Indian man is depicted moving awkwardly sideways through the space of an art exhibition, scratching his head and confusedly peering over hisshoulder at a selection of images hung on the wall behind him, each neatly inscribed with a title: “Venus,” “Meditation,” and “Portrait.” These descriptive titles appear to be insufficient, and so further explanation is provided with the word “Exhibition” inscribed inclear, large letters on the wall above. But even all these visual clues and signposts seem to do nothing to assuage the man’s disorientation or to mitigate the strangeness he seems to experience at this encounter. He gazes in confusion at the pictures on the wall, jaw dropped open in disbelief and disapprobation. He rests his right hand on a cane, perhaps suggesting an infirmity or maybe just an overwhelming weakness in the knees brought on by this encounter with the abstract shapes and repurposed folk art on display on the wall, which from the title of the cartoon we are given to understand represent “Modernism in 39 This spelling of the artist’s name is that which appears on the cover of Ironies and Sarcasms, but his first two and last two names are also sometimes combined in the spelling Deviprosad Roychowdhury.36Art.” The accompanying caption makes the frustration and aversion that characterizes this situation explicit; the man is identified as an “innocent spectator,” again suggesting that some manner of his victimization has occurred, and when asked, “What are you looking at?” he replies with a resolute “Nothing!”40 But it is not just the strangeness of modern art forms and styles that is depicted in this cartoon, it is also the awkwardness and unfamiliarity of the experience of the exhibition space itself. The sideways stance of the figure—with frontal shoulders but with head turned in profile—on the one hand allows this “victim” to address both the artwork on display and us, the viewers of the cartoon. His sideways stance in effect connects our gazewith his and encourages us to imagine ourselves as participants in this confused and unsatisfied act of looking. But when we do imaginatively step forward to occupy his position, it becomes clear that his posture is one of profound physical unease and disorientation. The conflicting planes of the body are twisted and flattened against the back of the picture plane, just like the framed pictures on the wall behind him. The figure’s own deportment and physicality seems to be somehow on display, offered up for our surveillance and judgement. Suddenly this drawing, which at first glance appears to bea straightforwardly satirical lampoon of exotically new art styles and the fashion for thingsinternational and modern, becomes on closer examination also an indicator of the intense physical anxieties that manifested in the experience of the modern gallery or exhibition 40 Devi Prosad Roy Chowdhury, Ironies and Sarcasms (Calcutta: General Printers, 1951), 35. 37space, as visitors struggled to come to terms with the often unfamiliar spatial and social practices that were expected of them therein.When the phenomenon of the fine art exhibition was introduced by the British in Bengal in the nineteenth century, at that time it represented a radically new model of artistic marketing and distribution for the gentlemen artists described at the beginning of this chapter. The model of the aristocratic, fine art exhibition existed alongside simultaneous practices of practically oriented exhibitions of culture and industry that tended to be organized by local government. While each of these exhibitionary models no doubt informed the other, nevertheless the fine art, aristocratic, salon model of fine art display and marketing did have many unique qualities inherited from European examples. By the early twentieth century there was a small but steady calendar of fine arts exhibitions in Bengal, held mostly in Calcutta. The Indian Society of Oriental Art (ISOA), for example, held regular annual exhibitions that tended to showcase the Bengal School artists. There were also occasional exhibitions mounted by the Society of Fine Art that catered to more conservative, academic tastes. For a brief period in the 1910s there was also a semi-regular show of pictures held at Darjeeling hill station (also in Bengal). Although this last example included a special category of prizes for works by Indian artists, the Darjeeling show nevertheless tended to be the purview of amateur artists and Sunday watercolourists amongst the European population, rather than professional Bengali artists. 38Yet even this small smattering of exhibition opportunities often foundered for lack of public interest. As one anonymous commentator noted on the occasion of the ISOA’s 1920 exhibition: Exhibitions of pictures or other works of art are so rare and few and far between… that one is accustomed to attach more importance to the Annual Exhibition of the Indian Society of Oriental Art than the merits of its average show actually deserve…. But given how few people actually attend the exhibition, there’s no reason to ask for more.41 Indeed, with their palpable absence of any human figures, the two photographs that accompanied this rather scathing review (which appeared in the pages of the ISOA’s own journal, no less) convey to an even greater extent what must have been the eerie sense of isolation and abandonment that prevailed within the few salon-style exhibitions that were mounted during this period (figures 1.14 and 1.15). Moreover, while these sorts of salon-style society exhibitions were ostensibly “public,” in practice these spaces were carefully socially policed and were only freely accessible to those who enjoyed significant social and economic advantages. In the colonial context thisusually meant admittance only for those who were of obvious European appearance, and those Indians who dressed in a European fashion, spoke English, or were visibly upper-middle class or bhadralok. Failure to display one or more of these bodily and performativesignifiers (they often went hand-in-hand) did not necessarily guarantee refusal of admission to such spaces, but it would certainly have courted intensified scrutiny and 41 “Notes,” Rupam no. 6 (April 1921), 41. 39social anxiety. Indeed, so socially restricted were the salon-style exhibitions that the artiststhemselves were often not entirely welcome at them. The artist B.C. Sanyal, speaking about this type of fine art society exhibition in India generally at the time, described it as: …an annual ritualistic Indian art exhibition opened by the respective Governors, the Viceroy at Simla, in the presence of the titled gentry, officials and select invited guests. The functions used to be invariably very starchy… The artists had little to do with these…except to lend their works to be rejected or exhibited.42In his article, Sanyal also lamented that while in days past there were often distinctive “sold” stickers scattered throughout such exhibitions at the end of the opening receptions, over the years it seemed that works were left increasingly unsold at the end of the exhibitions. Thus, although these sorts of high society, salon-style exhibitions in Bengal could perhaps function as useful vehicles for artists of elite social status who could use them as opportunities for advancing their cultural capital without having to worry about their effectiveness in actually selling their work, such exhibitions would by virtue of socialrestrictions and structural limitations be of rather less use to the average professional artistof more modest social standing, for whom the pressure to earn a living through the sale of work was often of paramount importance. There was, meanwhile, a vibrant and thriving street market for images and visual culture at this time, as there continues to be today. But in Bengali society the sale of goods on the street smacked rather too much of the lower-than-middle classes, which anyone wishing to42 B.C. Sanyal, “Contemporary Indian Art: A Survey,” in Sixty Years of Writing on Arts & Crafts in India, from Roopa-Lekha 1928-1988, ed. Ram Dhamjia (New Delhi: Sterling Publishers, 1988), 155-156. 40establish a reputation as a professional artist would have been at pains to try to avoid. Thiswas especially true because such associations, once made in the minds of the art-interestedpublic, were very difficult to shake. Indeed, even some seven decades after the fact, the artist Nandalal Bose reportedly still noted with disdain that his contemporary Mukul Dey had, at the beginning of his career, often sold his work on the street.43There was one other variant in the exhibitionary model that was also a part of the Bengali art world at this time: the art school exhibition. Most notably at the Government School ofArt in Calcutta, but also at some of the other institutions of art training previously mentioned, various exhibitions of student work were occasionally held and opened to the public. But although these exhibitions did offer a useful introduction to exhibitionary practices for emerging artists, they could obviously not offer a long-term solution to the problem of artistic distribution and marketing for artists once they had graduated and moved on from these institutions. Nor was there yet a viable commercial art market in Bengal in the form of art galleries or art dealers. While some high-end furniture stores at the time did sell copies or imitations of Old Master paintings to satisfy the elite British andbhadralok fashion for home decoration, there really was not an effective system of commercial gallery spaces that sold the work of living artists in Calcutta until the 1960s,44 and even well into the 1970s it was still a common complaint that “not much real effort 43 Panchanan Mondal, Bharatshilpi Nandalal, volume 3 (Santinitekan: Radh Gabeshana Parshad, 1993), 516-517. 44 John Clark, Modern Asian Art (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1998), 179.41has been made in art dealing in Calcutta,” and that in general, “exhibiting facilities for artists in Calcutta [were still] pathetic.”45  The resulting predicament for the professional artist working in Bengal was that, while occasional fine arts exhibitions were then being held in the region, their cultural exclusivity and unfamiliar social practices rendered them unapproachable and unappealingto those outside the social elite. Art school exhibitions offered a useful introduction into salon-style exhibitionary practices for art students, but these could not be relied upon over the long-haul of a professional career, and meanwhile the street market for images and visual culture was off-limits for those with aspirations of middle-class respectability. 1.5 Print as Exhibitionary AlternativeIn such a difficult working environment, in need of both a viable, motivated audience and a means of connecting his work to it, but with restricted access to either elite salons or the street markets of the working-class craftsman, the professional working artist had to turn to alternative means and strategies of artistic promotion and distribution. Chief amongst these was the ability to actively participate in and engage with a wide range of local print media and technologies. Indeed, because of the particular social position occupied by the 45 Mohim Roodro, “Community of Artists and Sculptors in Calcutta,” in Cultural Profile of Calcutta, ed. Surajit Sinha (Calcutta: Indian Anthropological Society, 1972), 184.  42professional working artist at this time, the realm of print and print media constituted in effect both an alternative art world and a working strategy par excellence. The role played by elite journals like Prabasi and The Modern Review has long been acknowledged as having been crucial in championing the nationalist agenda of the Bengal School style in an earlier period. Partha Mitter has noted now the publisher of both these journals, Ramananda Chatterjee, had “an unfailing instinct for backing promising artists” and that he had “moved painlessly from [his endorsement of] Ravi Varma to Abanindranath” in the first decades of the twentieth century.46 Tapati Guha-Thakurta has noted that with this shift in support from these two major publications, “the stage was set” for the triumph of Abanindranath Tagore and the new style of Indian painting.47 Less well-known but also very important were other journals that were not quite at the same elite or prestige end of the social scale—journals like Bharatavarsha, Basumanti, and Sachitra Shishir—that catered to more popular tastes and continued to promote the work of academically realist artists well into the 1920s.48 These were all in the nature of high-end illustrated magazines. Alongside them, we can see the expansion of cheaper, more popular(and populist) realms of print culture at this period, particularly in the realm(s) of advertising. 46 Mitter, Art and Nationalism in Colonial India, 121. 47 Guha-Thakurta, The Making of a New ‘Indian’ Art, 138. 48 Ibid, 321. 43Some attention has already been paid to the ways that advertising and advertising imagery participated in Bengali modernity, by scholars like Kajri Jain and Douglas Haynes. This research has tended to focus on advertising as a commodity image, helping to shape new, middle-class notions of consumerism and systems of economic exchange, as well as how people made sense not just of the marketplace but also of the family, the nation, and the public sphere.49 But such studies have always focused on the reception of advertised images rather than their production. Shifting that focus sheds light on the general social milieu in which the professional print artist engaged and worked, and on the way(s) he could produce images for a different kind of art market than has so far been closely analysed or discussed. Advertising was one of the most stable means by which aspiring artists could earn a livingat this time, and indeed the demand for artists specially trained in the field of commercial art warranted the opening a commercial art section at the Government School of Art in Calcutta in 1925. The commercial art department filled a very real need at the time; Satish Chandra Sinha, the head teacher of the Commercial Section in the 1930s, noted that as soon as the commercial section was opened, “the attention of students were at once attracted by this new and remunerative branch of art” and that “most students found employment as soon as they passed their final examination.”50 One student of the period 49 Kajri Jain, Gods in the Bazaar: The Economies of Indian Calendar Art (Durham: Duke University Press, 207). Douglas Haynes, “Creating the Consumer? Advertising, Capitalism and the Middle Class in Urban Western India, 1914-1940,”in Towards a History of Consumption in South Asia. (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2010): 185-223.50 Satish Chandra Sinha, “Commercial Art in Bengal.” Our Magazine (March 1932), 9. 44noted the that there were social and class distinctions between the perceived categories of fine art and commercial art at this time; he wrote that with the opening of the commercial section “art will no longer be a hobby of fancy people, but a good profession and livelihood.”51 Indeed, whenever the Government Art School or other private schools of art in the city held exhibitions of student work, it was usually the commercial section and the “practical and effective” aspects of such art that was emphasized in the press. For example, two separate reports of exhibitions at the Indian Art School appeared in The Statesman newspaper in 1910: the first report emphasized the idea that art could be a means of “independent livelihood and good income,”52 while the second took pains to point out that many students of the school had been able to “readily obtain remunerative employment.”53 In another example, at the 1932 opening of the annual student exhibition of the Government Art School, the Minister for Education specifically addressed the local business community in his speech, as follows: I would like to take this opportunity of drawing special attention … to the commercial section where students are being trained in drawing of posters and beautifully designed advertisements for business purposes. I have seensome of the works and I can recommend it to the business community. It deserves their support and encouragement, and I am sure the students can execute all the work that is required, and there is no necessity for the businessmen to go outside India for this work.54This call to the business community not to outsource their advertising work corresponds toa shift that can be seen in the advertising and advertising images in major local 51 Ashraf Zaman Khan, “Art and Commerce.” Our Magazine (December 1933), 3. 52  The Statesman, March 1, 1910.53 The Statesman, April 10, 1910. 54 Reproduced in Our Magazine, December 1932. 45newspapers like The Englishman and The Statesman during the same period. Starting in the 1910s and accelerating through the 1930s, ads that were generic to a particular brand and which were used elsewhere in the world (i.e., which were not specific to India) began to be replaced with locally-produced ads with more India-specific content, which often even included signatures of the local artists who had designed them (figures 1.16 and 1.17). This shift would have greatly impacted the local employment opportunities for commercial artists in the region. In the 1930s the Government Art School also began publishing a student journal called Our Magazine, in which poster and advertising designs by students were commonly featured, as were short congratulatory texts that mentioned when students had found employment (most often in the advertising field, but also sometimes as art teachers). Our Magazine provided a medium through which to introduce the work of the school’s students to the wider business community, and indeed eventually there emerged a kind of feedback loop between the commercial section of the school, the business community, andOur Magazine. This is demonstrated, for example, in a series of notices that ran in the magazine in 1932, which informed students of a competition to design ads for a local company called Abinash Paints. Students in the commercial section were encouraged to submit their designs to the magazine, which then presented them to representatives of Abinash Paints for their consideration. The chosen designs were then purchased by 46Abinash as advertisements, and were run in a later issue of the magazine (figures 1.18 and 1.19).55 Advertising was not only an important avenue of employment for many professional artists in Calcutta in the early twentieth century, but also an important method of marketing. Non-commercial artists (that is, those who did not work directly in the designing of advertisements) also used ads to market their works in newspapers and journals and to sell directly from artist to buyer. There are many examples of instances where works of art were sold through classified ads in local newspapers throughout this period, but for artists who specialized in printmaking rather than painting or sculpture this became a particularly useful strategy. Such prints were usually characterized by sharp, bold contrasts of black and white space, meaning that their visual impact and material characteristics were largely maintained intact through the commercial printing processes then available in Calcutta (figures 1.20, 1.21 and 1.22). By advertising their prints in newspapers and journals, these artists were not only able to bypass the inadequacies of thelocal exhibition circuit, but they were also able to reach out to new urban patrons who might think it perfectly common to read an English newspaper but who would either not consider entering, or perhaps would not have been entirely welcome in, a fine art exhibition.5655 Our Magazine, March and December, 1932.56 Indeed, even when artists were able to participate in the elite world of art exhibitions, advertising was useful in helping to recoup the associated costs. The artist Subho Tagore, for example, had commemorative catalogues published to accompany several of his solo exhibitions in Calcutta, Delhi, Bombay and Colombo in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. In some editions, more than 50 pages were given over to advertisements, for everything from Ovaltine to tractors. The Art of Subho Tagore (Calcutta: Thacker Spink, 1950).47Finally, there is one more way that advertising can shed light on the professional working artist in late colonial Calcutta. Such artists were often compelled to supplement their income with work as private art teachers, and advertising was obviously useful in this regard. This had been a strategy employed for decades by various middling European artists in the city, who placed classified ads in local newspapers offering fine art lessons atmoderate terms. It was a bit later before Indian artists began to also take advantage of this practice: the first Indian artist that I have been able to identify with these kinds of ads is Atul Bose, who advertised his availability as an art teacher in The Statesman newspaper inDecember 1928 (figure 1.23). This ad is particularly interesting for the way it highlights some of the spatial politics of the urban landscape of Calcutta in the late colonial period. In all cases of ads for artists with European names that I have to date been able to identify,the addresses of the artists’ studios are all situated in the fashionable and wealthy part of the city immediately beside the large open space known as the maidan: this was the bastion of colonial power known as the so-called “white town.” The north of the city, meanwhile, was the older, more densely populated “black town” where indigenous pictureproduction by caste-based guilds operated alongside but separate from the elite art world. When Atul Bose’s ad appears, however, his address signifies that he belongs to neither of these established categories. Instead his address on Bondel Road pinpoints him in neither of these enclaves, but instead in the new middle-class developments in Ballygunge in the southern suburbs. It was precisely such new spaces of in-between-ness that were negotiated by the professional Bengali artist: neither elite nor subaltern, embedded neither 48in the black town nor the white, but opening up a new space of social possibility for working artists. Advertising is simply one sub-genre within a much larger phenomenon of print and print media that was particularly important for artists struggling to make a living for themselvesduring the late colonial period in Bengal. In the following chapters, I will look closely at several other distinct types of print and printed media that also existed within the larger print world phenomenon, in order to discuss how they each in turn were situated in relation to the non-aristocratic, professional Bengali artist of the period. 1.6 Narrative Outline of Chapters In this thesis I discuss particular images and objects, certain institutions and texts, in order to trace the figure of the urban, professional, printmaking artist as he negotiated the contested spaces of a highly professionalized, self-consciously modern “art world” that was itself emerging and constantly transforming in Bengal during this same period. I am concerned with questions such as: With what tools did artists of this time and place stake out and negotiate certain identities for themselves as professional artists? By what means were artists able to carve out both economic opportunity and cultural capital for themselves in the urban centre of Calcutta and elsewhere in Bengal? What issues and structures did the working artist have to engage and deal with effectively in order to be 49able to succeed as an artist? All these issues are woven throughout my project and emerge in each of the chapters in different ways. In chapter two, I focus more specifically on the general phenomenon of print media in order to address a particular sub-genre within that category: a collection of books of artists’ prints by some of the few artists in and from Bengal at this time who chose to specialize particularly in relief printmaking media such as woodcut and linocut. These books are rarely discussed in the existing scholarship, yet their characteristics and historiesgreatly aid our understanding of many aspects of the life and work of artists at this time. As I will argue, in their particular material qualities, in the manner of their distribution andcirculation, in the nature of their texts and images, and due to their particular situatedness in a longer history of printing and printmaking in South Asia, these books of artists’ printsmanifested a very powerful and unique constellation of historical possibilities that allowedthem to resonate with the working out of modern social possibility for the artists who created them. Moreover, in their visual imagining of village Bengal, these books often also intervened directly into the contentious and complex relationship between the rural and the urban, between tradition and modernity, and between labour and leisure, that continues to colour Bengali and South Asian art today. In chapter three I examine another issue that the professional printmaking artist had to negotiate in order to carve out a successful career in the early twentieth century. In this chapter I examine the debates around the proper role of the individual in relation to a 50larger collective or community. I look closely at other key examples of books of artists’ prints that depict individual portraits, in order to explain how the relatively unknown medium of drypoint engraving was particularly relevant for dealing with the issue of modern Bengali individuality and individualism. Also in chapter three, I examine the consequences of shifting the semantic category from “books of artists’ prints” to “print artists’ books,” in order to examine another sub-genre that also exists within this larger phenomenon of art print: autobiographies written by working artists from the early twentieth century in Bengal. I particularly examine the figure of the autobiographical Bengali artist in the early twentieth century, and how artists (particularly print artists) were able to take up and use the tools of biography and autobiography as part of their social and artistic practices. In chapter four I continue to explore the modern cult of individualism and the relative importance of an individual in relation to a community, the possibilities (and limitations) of print and printmaking, the complex and contested relationship between the rural and theurban in Bengali modernity, and some of the important differences between elite and non-elite experience in Bengali society. In chapter four I push discussion of these issues furtherby examining at a particular moment of rupture and crisis: the Bengal Famine of 1943. I provide an account of the Famine itself, showing how previously-stable social structures and categories broke down during the circumstances of 1943 and 1944, rendering millionsof victims painfully isolated. This chapter also considers representations of the Famine in the art of the period and some of the Famine’s profound consequences for Bengali art and 51artists, both in that particular historical moment and for decades afterwards. I explore particularly the involvement and relationship of printmaking to the history of the Famine, and how print artists and printed images participated in what were terrorizing and brutal circumstances. In doing so I show how the artists tested the limits of printmaking’s possibilities in such conditions: how in the presence of profound trauma, some artistic expression transformed into forms of testimony. 522. Artists’ Books of Prints2.1 Introduction During the late colonial period, professional Bengali artists often struggled and had to improvise in order to better perform their57 newly available social role. An ability on the part of such artists to effectively engage with the world of press and print media–in a variety of different ways and registers–was an indispensable tool for artists engaged in thisproject. For such artists, having an agility and a fluency both with and within print(s) was increasingly vital, both as a social and economic strategy and as an artistic practice. As the example of advertising discussed in the previous chapter suggests, the advantages and usefulness of print for artists at this time could be both multifaceted and complex. Print advertising, for example, could offer multiple opportunities for professional artists. Itcould be a potential field of employment for commercial artists, a way to advertise oneselfas an art teacher, or a way to connect to buyers and sell artwork directly. 57 As mentioned in the introductory chapter, the vast majority of professional artists in late-colonial Bengal were men. However it is important to note that there were a few rare exceptions of women, such as Rani Chanda (née Rani Dey, younger sister of Mukul Dey), who also managed to carve out careers for themselvesas professional artists at this time. More research and work remains to be done on professional Bengali female artists of the colonial period. 53The previous chapter dealt with advertising and commercial art media, and how they involved particular types and methods of print that represented a particular sub-genre or sub-category within the larger phenomenon of a print-based art world in Bengal in the early twentieth century. This chapter will shed light on somewhat different types and methods of print, which were also being effectively used and activated by other professional artists in and from Bengal at this time. These different types and methods of print were in some ways related to the world of advertising and commercial printing, but in other ways were also connected to new and evolving notions of “fine art printmaking” that were circulating especially amongst the European and western-educated elements of the Bengali art world during this period. This chapter looks particularly at a set of printed books and images that emerged from and circulated within the Bengali art world of the late colonial period, which have so far received fairly little attention in the subsequent art history. Nevertheless these books, along with many of the myriad images they contain, reveal important contours of the intersection between print and professionalism in Bengalimodern art during the late colonial period. This chapter introduces and examines a group of special edition books of artists’ prints that were published in the early decades of the twentieth century by artists in and from Bengal, along with a selection of the texts and images contained therein. After offering a descriptive account of a key selection of the books themselves, and following a consideration of the issues of price, audience, production processes, and the relationship toother types of printed media also circulating in Bengal during this period, this chapter 54moves towards a discussion of the ways these books effectively and affectively engaged with the issue of the rural. These books demonstrate how the issue of the rural saturated the Bengali art world (and society generally) in the late colonial period. These books shed light on how this was an issue that Bengali print artists had to understand and communicate skilfully if they had any aspirations of professional success. And finally, these books demonstrate that it was printmaking media in particular that could address such an issue most effectively. 2.2 The Objects of Analysis The books of artists’ prints that I consider in this chapter were for the most part privately commissioned from small printing houses, in limited editions of a few hundred copies at the most, with each copy often signed and individually numbered by the artists themselves. They usually combined short texts with collections of black and white images done in wood engraving, linocut, drypoint or other printmaking media. The texts contained in these books were most commonly just short introductory or dedicatory passages at the front of the book, and caption information (often title only) for subsequent pages with individual images. But occasionally these books also included lengthier texts such as collections of poetry, short biographical sketches, and even travel narratives. The images and texts in these books often concerned themselves with rural or pastoral subject matter. Landscapes and scenes of idyllic village life are the most common types of images55they contain, but some examples of cityscapes, portraits and genre scenes also appear. Thetitles of these books tend to be enumerative and descriptive, and were usually media- or subject-specific. Examples include Twelve Portraits by Mukul Dey (1917), Twenty-Five Linocuts by Rani Dey (1932), and Ten Wood Engravings by Students of the Government School of Art Calcutta (1944). It is worth noting that the titles and texts of these books appear to be almost exclusively in English, strongly suggesting that they were designed and intended for an audience in Bengal that was in many ways elite, and certainly English-educated. Pramatha Kumer Bose’s Woodcuts (1932) is a possible exception to the English-language rule for these publications; this book was described as presenting 32 original woodcuts “with descriptivenotes in Bengali.”58 Another exception was Mukul Dey’s Portraits of Gandhi (1948), which did have an English title but which included a fairly lengthy account of the recently-assassinated Gandhi in both English and Hindi. Dey also published the exclusively Bengali Shat Bachhorer in 1943, for which the choice of language may have been related to the fact that it was a children’s book, published by Dey to mark the occasion of his daughter’s seventh birthday. These are some interesting counter-examples,worthy of their own closer examination. And there remains open the possibility of additional books of artists’ prints from this period having been published in Bengali that my research has not yet uncovered. Nevertheless, the books that I have identified so far 58 Our Magazine (September, 1932), 9. I have not yet located a copy of this book, but a review of the publication that appeared in Our Magazine included this information regarding language.  56strongly suggest an English-reading audience for such literature, with all the complex social hierarchies of class, caste, age and gender that such an audience would have impliedin late-colonial South Asia. On the one hand these books appealed to and were addressed to a necessarily elite, English-reading audience. Nevertheless, I will argue below that thesebooks were also sold at moderate prices and embodied certain material characteristics and stylistic qualities that would have rendered them compelling for wider, non-elite Bengali audiences as well. The earliest examples of this type of book of artists’ prints that I have identified to date were published in the very late 1910s, with some of the latest being from the mid-1950s.59 The bulk seem to have been published in the 1930s and 1940s, at a time when almost no major artists in Bengal specialized in printmaking media, but almost everyone had dabbledin them. However, the artists whose names are associated with these books of artists’ prints—artists like Ramendranath Chakravorty (1902-1955), Mukul Dey (1895-1989), Rani Dey/Chanda (1912-1997), Chittaprosad (1915-1978), Somnath Hore (1921-2006), and Haren Das (1921-1993)—are exactly those few artists who are the exceptions to that rule. Some of these artists did receive training in drawing and painting, and a few continued to produce work in non-print media over the course of their careers. Ramendranath Chakravorty, for example, initially enrolled in the Government School of Art in Calcutta to study painting. It was not until he went to study at the newly established 59 The fact that this phenomenon of art-print publishing in inexpensive-book format can be observed both before and after 1947 is significant, and perhaps suggests that the great political milestone of Independence and Partition did not have a commensurate impact on the world of artistic practice in Bengal. 57Kala Bhavan in Santiniketan that he was exposed to the techniques of woodcut and wood engraving, which would thereafter become his almost exclusive media of choice.60 Similarly, Mukul Dey initially studied painting with Abanindranath at the Tagore family home of Jorasanko in north Calcutta, years before he was introduced to the medium of drypoint engraving by William Pearson.61 Although he continued to produce large quantities of painting and photographic work throughout his career, Dey is still primarily known as a master of drypoint: the first, in fact, from India.62 Mukul Dey’s younger sister Rani Dey (who became Rani Chanda when she married the personal secretary of Rabindranath Tagore) is today perhaps best remembered in Bengal as an author and dramatist,63 but in her early career she spent a great deal of time exploring the possibilities of relief print media. She produced a significant body of early printmaking work, including at least one collection of linocuts in a limited edition volume that is included in the group of books of artists’ prints considered in this chapter (Twenty-Five Linocuts, 1932). However despite these few counter-examples of interest and work in other media, the artists associated with books of artists’ prints examined in this chapter are in effect the short list of professional Bengali artists who were active in the early twentieth century 60 Binode Bihari Mukherjee, “Ramendranath Chakraborty and his Art Practice,” in Ramendranath Chakravorty (1902-1955): A Retrospective of His Graphic Prints (Kolkata: Rasa Gallery, 2006), n.p. 61 Mukul Dey, Amar katha (Kolkata: Visva Bharati Press, 1995), 25-28.62 Dey’s other major historical claim to fame is that he served as the first Indian Principal of the GovernmentSchool of Art in Calcutta, from 1928 to 1943. 63 Banglapedia: The National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh, s.v., “Rani Chanda.” It is notable that one of the only women to achieve renown in the late colonial Bengali art world was the sister of a major artist (Mukul Dey) who married into the Tagore family and dynasty. It speaks further to the male and bhadralok dominance of the Bengali art world at this time.  58who, for a significant portion of their careers, dedicated themselves and their artistic practices almost exclusively to printmaking.64 It is also true that, with the exception of the autodidact Chittaprosad, all of these artists were exposed to some manner of official, institutional training in printmaking media in an art school environment, as a part of their pursuit of a professional artistic profession. These artists did not receive their print training in the commercial press and printing worldthat was active in Calcutta throughout the same period. Rather, they were educated in and exposed to a “high art” version of printmaking that was emerging and constantly transforming in Bengal at this time. In the case of Ramendranath Chakravorty for example, when he arrived at remote, rural Santiniketan to study art at Rabindranath Tagore’s utopian university project Visva Bharati, the exposure he received to the art of printmaking was nevertheless markedly international and deeply rooted in a tradition of fine-art printmaking. He first observed the process of wood engraving from the visiting French artist Madam Karpeles, and later also learned about Japanese colour woodblock printing techniques from a visiting Mexican artist named Fryman.65 For several years Chakravorty also studied under Nandalal Bose, who in 1924 had brought examples of Chinese and Japanese woodblock prints back to Santiniketan to expose students to the 64 Nandalal Bose is the obvious omission from this list of early twentieth-century Bengali printmakers. While Bose’s work in printmaking was indeed a significant part of his artistic practice and his legacy as an art teacher, nevertheless he was still primarily a painter. Bose did provide woodcut illustrations in the 1930s for Rabindranath Tagore’s Sahoj Path series of Bengali grammar books for children, which perhaps occupy a similar intersection between children’s literature and book illustration as Mukul Dey’s Shat Bachorer. But for the purposes of this project it is important to note that Dey is today remembered mostly as a printmaker, whereas Bose is remembered primarily as a painter. 65 Paula Sengupta, “Haren Das: To Tread Alone,” in Haren Das: The End of Toil - Prints (1945-1990) (Delhi: Delhi Art Gallery, 2008), 17. 59profound artistic potential of printmaking media. Mukul Dey’s exposure to drypoint engraving was similarly international and just as vested in the status of the original print asa revered, fine art object. After first practising the drypoint technique with William Pearson in India, Dey later studied with and became a member of the Chicago Society of Etchers, and later studied in England under the famed English printmaker Frank Short. These artists and others who are also associated with the books of artists’ prints that this chapter considers were a rare group of professional Bengali print artists, somewhat removed from both the world of commercial printing and also from the salons of elite painting practices. I have so far identified approximately twenty books of artists’ prints from Bengali artists of this period.66 A few of these survive in the libraries of western universities, but the majority remain in India, not in institutional or governmental archives or libraries but more commonly in private homes and collections. Given their original limited production runs and their rather ephemeral natures, it seems likely that many more of these books could have been produced but have simply escaped preservation in an archive. This is corroborated by the existence of certain ephemeral materials related to the publication of books of artists’ prints (such as advertisements and reviews), where existing copies of the books themselves have so far not been found. Thus what follows is by no means intended as a final word on this subject; rather it is presented as an opportunity to begin a 66 Some books display many of the characteristics of the group but not all, and thus depending on which features one considers critical, the number of constituent representatives varies between 15 and 20. This chapter considers one particular sub-focus within this group of objects, while the following chapter considers the consequences of shifting the focus towards a slightly different sub-category. 60conversation about the role of these books of artists’ prints in the late colonial Bengali art world. In what follows I will look closely at two key examples of these publications, in order to establish some of the parameters and characteristics of this particular sub-category of print within the wider, print-embedded, Bengali art world of the late colonial period. 2.2.1 Call of the Himalayas In 1944 Ramendranath Chakravorty published a book titled Call of the Himalayas, a slim volume of about twenty pages, with glossy, off-white paper bound in a stiff cardboard cover decorated with a repeating, black and white woodcut design of a mountain peak contained within a diamond-shaped framing device (figure 2.1). A label that provides the title of the book and the author’s/artist’s name in red letters has been printed separately and subsequently pasted onto the front cover at upper left, rather than printed as an integrated element within the cover itself (the tactile edge around the label is apparent when holding and touching the book). This means that the process of printing both the back and front covers was identical and thus more cost-effective – the only distinction is the glued-on label with title. The cover of the book gives the short title Call of the Himalayas, but the inside title page inside offers an added description: Call of the Himalayas with Twenty-five Wood Engravings (figure 2.2). The title page is followed by colophon and dedication pages, then61by a contents page that lists the titles of the twenty-five wood engravings contained thereafter.67 The colophon page that follows this list of contents provides many key detailsof the book’s original publication, including that it was “Printed from original wood blocks by Indian Photo Engraving Co. and published by S. Shaha, 2/1 Lake-View Road, Calcutta. Price Rupees Five.” It also states that it was a “limited, autographed edition of two hundred only.” These details help to reinforce the uniqueness and value of the publication, naming the professionals responsible for its production and stipulating that it is in a limited, autographed edition. The copy in my collection is indeed signed by the artist in English on the colophon page, and is also further inscribed in Bengali to a Ms. Kalyani and Mr. Biswanath. The date of April 31, 1944 has also been written in Bengali script (figure 2.3).68 The colophon page faces an almost-blank page that contains just a simple dedication in letter press: “To my master Nandalal Bose.”69 The publication details clearly emphasize that the book was produced from original wood blocks carved by Chakravorty himself. This, together with the fact that is in a limited edition and signed by the artist, all works to embed this book and others like it into a discourse of “fine art printmaking” that has connections to western art traditions. Hand-67 The titles of these images are (in order): Storm Clouds; The Watermill; Madal Player; Peora Chatti; The Innkeeper; At Joshi Math; The Wayside Inn; The Pass, Rope Bridge ; The Himalayas; Summer; The Kopai River; The Wayside Well; The Centre of Santiniketan; At the Foot of the Himalayas; Hill-Peoples’ Home; The Babbling Fountain; End of the Day’s Journey; The Winding Road; The Glimpse of Snow; Snows; The Caravan; The Hermit; Badrinath; and Back at the Asram.68 The Bangla handwritten-inscription reads: Srimati Kalyani o Sriman Biswanath ke baba. 31/5/44 (To Ms. Kalyani & Mr. Biswanath....father, 31/5/44). Note that the Bengali symbol for the number four is the same as the western (Arabic) numeral 8, thus what appears to be a date of ‘88 is in fact 1944. 69 Chakravorty had studied under Bose at Kala Bhavan in Santiniketan in the early 1920s; like many artists of his generation, Chakravorty was devoted to this remarkable teacher and mentor.62numbering and signing of prints have long been strategies adopted by printmakers to legitimate the originality of their work, vis-à-vis painting. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries these practices were incorporated into the formal rules for printmakingsocieties that were established in many western countries. Organizations such as the RoyalSociety of Painter-Etchers in the United Kingdom and Atelier 17 in Paris were often established in protest of the then-common Academy rules which allowed for the exhibition of work by engravers whose work involved the translation of paintings done by other artists into printed media, but did not permit the exhibition of work by artists who designed and created entirely new images via printmaking processes. Such printmaking societies staked great claim on the originality of their members’ designs as an indicator of their creative integrity and thus their cultural capital, and sought to emphasize this throughstrategies such as hand-numbering, signing, and the limiting of production runs. Through exactly the same kinds of strategies (gleaned, no doubt, through channels such as official art school training), professional print artists like Ramendranath Chakravorty staked a claim to the aura of originality and sought to invest their finished products, such as Call ofthe Himalayas, with greater value and appeal. After the introductory pages to Call of the Himalayas there is a short, four-page text written by Chakravorty in English, interspersed throughout with small illustrations (figure 2.4). These are followed by sixteen pages that contain larger images, each displayed on its own separate presentation page (figure 2.5). The presence of these presentation pages is significant, as it goes a long way towards distinguishing these books of artists’ prints from63what could be more straightforwardly considered illustrated books. With the images isolated and individually framed by white space, the viewer is encouraged to invest in them something of the aura of the individual art object. Like the theatricality of the white walls that frame an art object in a contemporary art gallery or museum, the isolation of each image on its own page with white space surrounding it encourages the reader/viewer to linger on each print separately, slowly considering each image’s composition and subject matter independent from the text, and paying each image the respect of time and consideration due to an important work of art. We know, moreover, that in some of the advertisements for these kinds of books of artists’ prints, the potential for each image to bedetached from the book and individually framed and displayed was clearly emphasized to buyers and readers (figure 1.21). And in at least one example known to this author, the images that were listed in a particular book’s table of contents does not correspond with the images retained in a particular volume, suggesting that the practice of removing individual pages/images for display was in effect.70 It is interesting to note that Call of the Himalayas represents something of a combination of the use of inter-textual images common in illustrated books, and the use of separate-page presentation images found in many of the books of artists’ prints. The nine images interspersed throughout Chakravorty’s four-page text and the sixteen that follow on presentation pages together comprise the twenty-five wood engravings designated in the title. 70 Ramendranath Chakravorty’s Woodcuts (Calcutta: Susil Gupta, 1944) lists twenty-eight woodcuts in its table of contents, but the copy in my own collection is missing four. It should also be noted that many of these techniques and strategies that were used to designate books of artists’ prints as valuable art objects were also true of expensive books of photographic images during the same period. 64Although Call of the Himalayas was not published until 1944, the text recounts a journey that Chakravorty undertook in the summer of 1923, from Rabindranath Tagore’s rural, utopian university project in Santiniketan where Chakravorty was studying at the time, to the Himalayan village of Badrinath in northern India, very near to the border with Tibet and renowned as one of Hinduism’s holiest pilgrimage sites. While this journey is the presumptive impetus for the book, the narrative that Chakravorty presents both begins andends in Santiniketan, where Chakravorty spends a great deal of time describing the utopian environment of the university there, which he describes as being marred only by the oppressive heat of that year’s summer. Despite the heat, pleasant distractions were available; Chakravorty describes a local fair or mela in a nearby village, which he and several other students attended. He lingers in his narrative over the festive atmosphere thatprevailed there and notes the presence of “dark-coloured Santal maidens” who danced to rhythmic tribal music, and whose offering of cool water drawn from a well sparked the idea amongst he and his fellow students to travel to the cool heights of the Himalayas. Chakravorty recounts how collectively they presented their plan to “Gurudev” (a common and familiar name for Tagore), who urged the young men to undertake the journey as a kind of pilgrimage, instructing them to be as respectful of the holy site of Badrinath as they were of their holy ashram (i.e., the school in Santiniketan).71  While the book does notcontain an introduction or dedication written by Tagore (which later became a common characteristic of these books of artists’ prints), Chakravorty does quote Tagore at great 71 While the journey to Badrinath unfolds as a kind of Hindu pilgrimage narrative, it is worth noting that the desire to decamp to the hills to escape the summer weather was also common amongst the British colonial population, who of course established hill stations throughout India for exactly that purpose. 65length at this point in his narrative, thus still managing to provide something of the presence of “The Poet” (another common appellation for Tagore), which was very highly valued by Bengali audiences. Chakravorty quotes Tagore as urging the young men to adopt a new attitude while on their journey: Go to the Himalayas. Go to Badrinath. Badrinath is a place of Sadhanaand you will meet many a pilgrim on your way. You who go from Santiniketan must know that Santiniketan in also a place of Sadhana. The yonder Chhatim tree is the centre of this Asram. There my father the Maharshi performed his Sadhana. As you respect Santiniketan and realise the spirit of this place so you should respect the spirit of Badrinath and the flow of its pilgrims. Try to understand the spirit that inspires them. Though they may not see the grandeur and beauty of nature around them with your eyes and may miss a large part of it, yet despise them not, and you will have something to learn.72The narrative goes on to describe various details of the journey, undertaken at first by trainand then a further eighteen days on foot, as well as many picturesque details about the villages and tribal peoples that the party encountered along the way. The images in the book depict various elements of the journey as it is described in the text, from the Santal women drawing the water from the well that was the catalyst for the undertaking (figure 2.6), to the temple at Joshi Math where the travellers saw “sadhus with matted locks and bare bodies besmeared with ash sat deep in meditation, looking as old as the rocks themselves” 73(figure 2.7), to the Tibetan shepherds with their flocks of goats and sheep that they encountered as they neared Badrinath (figures 2.8 and 2.9). The images are all composed of dynamic rhythms of black and white space, which render all depicted objects72 Ramendranath Chakravorty, Call of the Himalayas, with Twenty-five Wood Engravings (Calcutta: S. Shaha, 1944), 2.73 Ibid, 3. 66as essentially an amalgam of repeating diagonal, horizontal, and vertical lines. Trees, hillsides, waterfalls, animals, rocks, human bodies: all are broken down into their common, constituent, linear elements.  The images in the book follow the general chronological progression set out in the narrative, both beginning and ending in Santiniketan. The reference Tagore makes to his father’s act of meditation under a tree that inspired him to found an ashram is alluded to early in the book with the image The Centre of Santiniketan (figure 2.10), while the end ofthe pilgrimage is represented by the final image of the book, Back at the Asram (figure 2.11). In the latter image a small crowd of people are depicted seated on the ground, all sharply illuminated by and directing their attention towards an unidentified light source that is hidden just to the right of the picture frame. Seeming to evoke an illuminated theatre production, or even one of the itinerant tent cinema performances that were widely popular in rural India for much of the twentieth century, this strange and unidentified lightsource suggests the sense of performance that marks the fulfilment of the pilgrimage documented in the book. For the purpose of such a pilgrimage is undoubtedly to return to one’s native place transformed by the journey and prepared to narrate and perform it for others. As the final lines of Chakravorty’s narrative makes clear, the pilgrimage was not considered to be over nor the story complete until “under the canopy of a starlit sky, before Gurudev and other inmates of the Asram, we told the story of this pilgrimage.”7474 Ibid, 4. 67This final image in Call of the Himalayas is also significant because as we the reader/viewer closely observe the attentive crowd that it represents, we realize that it includes a representation of Tagore himself: the Poet’s characteristic white hair and flowing beard are sufficient details to mark him as distinct from the rest of the crowd and to render this as a portrait of sorts. The artist has also used additional surrounding space and brighter illumination to highlight the figure of Gurudev (figure 2.11, detail). The shock generated by this image arises in part because, at the recognition of this as a portrait(that is, as a depiction of an identifiable individual) it becomes suddenly obvious that all of the other people depicted in Chakravorty’s story and in his images are utterly anonymous. The Santal women drawing water from the well are at least given fully developed physiognomies (figure 2.6) but are still unnamed and undifferentiated from their tribal “type.” But in every other instance the figures that Chakravorty depicted are rendered as both faceless and featureless, in many cases blending utterly into their surrounding environment and landscape (see figures 2.12 and 2.13, for example). Moreover, this unsettling anonymity was not something unique to Chakravorty or to this particular book; it can be found repeatedly in these books of artists’ prints produced by professional print artists in late colonial Bengal. Indeed, images that depicted a faceless, anonymous countryside appeared so often in these publications that it seems to suggest they may have been a contributing factor in their success. The production of images and texts related to a generalized anonymous countryside may well have been a valuable strategy for professional urban artists at this time. 682.2.2 Bengal Village in Wood EngravingLike Ramendranath Chakravorty, the artist Haren Das also took to printmaking at a time when it was unusual and unpopular.75 Also like Chakravorty, Haren Das pursued a professional artistic education at the Government School of Art in Calcutta, which he first joined in 1937. Das studied under Chakravorty himself in fact, and under the elder artist’s tutelage Das received his first exposure to graphic print design and execution in a fine art tradition. Like his teacher, Haren Das’s preferred techniques were wood engraving and woodcut.76 Also like Chakravorty, he developed a penchant for publishing books of prints dealing with rural Bengali life. In 1950, for example, Das published a slim volume titled Bengal Village in Wood Engraving (figure 2.14). Although technically just beyond the chronological boundary of “late colonial” that is the focus of this chapter and this thesis project, Bengal Village in Wood Engraving nevertheless embodies virtually all of the material qualities and characteristics that are common in the books of artists’ prints produced in the 1930s and 1940s, and thus I believe deserves consideration here; if nothing else, it speaks to the continuation of a nostalgia for an imagined idyllic life (and that nostalgia’s expression in woodcut and wood engraving) beyond the chronological boundary of Independence and Partition in 1947.  75 Sovon Som, forward to Haren Das: The End of Toil - Prints (1945-1990), (New Delhi: New Delhi Art Gallery, 2008), 10. 76 Woodcut involves the carving of the design along the grain of the block, while wood engraving employs the same technique on a matrix of end-grained wood. 69Both a front and a back colophon page are included in Bengal Village in Wood Engravings. The back colophon page states that the book was printed by S.N. Guha Ray, at Sree Saraswaty Press Lts, 32 Upper Circular Road, Calcutta. The front colophon page indicates that the original price of this book was five rupees. The price is significant, as it indicates a socio-economic level that is neither highly elite nor profoundly disadvantaged. The address of the publisher is significant, as it indicates a central urban locality within easy access to both elite Bengali and European communities. Like many other books of artists’ prints, Das’s book includes a general dedicatory text thatwas not a narrative that the images illustrated. The text gives a brief account of the artist and the book itself, and attempts to add some weight of importance and cultural capital to the project by means of the dignity and celebrity of the guest author (only occasionally didthe artist himself write these introductory texts). Das’s Bengal Village in Wood Engravings takes this tendency to include such texts from famous figures even further than most publications, in that it contains not one but two formal introductions. The first isdated 20 June 1950 and is written by Das’s former teacher Ramendranath Chakravorty, who was then serving as Principal of the Government School of Art in Calcutta. Chakravorty’s text describes the kind of poor country cousin status that printmaking occupied in India at that time, vis-à-vis painting, and applauds Das’s work for contributingto its improvement and greater status through the publication of such a book. In the text Chakravorty complains that: 70I am sorry to see that though there are quite a number of artists in this country who have acquired sufficient knowledge in wood engravings, theydo not take it up seriously. The fault is not only theirs, it is also true that no publisher ever cared to make a distinct effort in this line. This book of Sri Haren Das will be able to prove that wood engravings should have a place in the art activities of our country.77Chakravorty also mentions how books such as these could reach across boundaries of “fine art” and decorative illustration, noting that the printed images provided in the publication “will definitely raise the standard of the publication and it may be valued also as an art publication by lovers of art books” and that “thus, wood engravings and other graphic arts create art consciousness in the general public.”78 The second introduction in Bengal Village in Wood Engravings is dated 5 May 1950 and itwritten by L.M. Sen, who was then the Principal of the Government School of Arts & Crafts in Lucknow. Like Chakravorty, Sen takes this opportunity to decry the lack of interest in printmaking amongst the artistic community in India, “leave alone the unsurmountable [sic] ignorance of the people.” He writes: While the bulk of the energy of the artists of the present time is used up in newer and newer channels of expression, dictated by ‘isms’ and ‘ists’ of contemporary renown, comparatively very few of them have taken any interest in media other than painting or sculpture, as represented by the graphic arts like wood-cut, etching or lithography. The technical labour and honesty of working method seem to be too exacting for most of the ‘slapdashers’ of today.7977 Ramendranath Chakravorty, introduction to Bengal Village in Wood Engraving (Calcutta: G.C. Laha, 1950), n.p.78 Ibid.79 L.M. Sen, introduction to Bengal Village in Wood Engraving (Calcutta: G.C. Laha, 1950), n.p.71This text provides an interesting insight into the character of labour associated with printmaking media at this time, which helped to position even fine art printmaking (such as that learned by artists like Das, Chakravorty, Dey and others at privileged institutions ofart education) in relation to a labouring class and culture in South Asian culture and society. Elite art worlds that focused on painting and sculpture is dismissed in Sen’s introduction as “slapdashery,” as opposed to print artists who laboured “technically” and “honestly.” There is a clear investment in the artisanal labour of the craftsman being madehere, set up in contrast to the refined dabbling of the avant-garde painter. These two introductory texts are followed by ten wood engraving designs by Haren Das that are all given their own presentation pages with printed titles below, just as in Chakravorty’s Call of the Himalayas. Each of these images is presented on its own separate page, with suitably dramatic white space surrounding it and discrete caption information provided below, encouraging the consideration of each image as an individualart object and facilitating the removal of any images for individual display. The titles of the images are (in order): Two Sisters (figure 2.15), depicting two women threshing rice, seen from behind; Solitary Guard, which depicts a landscape with palm trees and a small hut housing an anonymous figure; Day’s End, a riverine scene with two boats with thatched, arched roofs tying up at a grassy bank, with several small and faceless human figures alongside; Fishing (figure 2.16) in which three figures in a boat are viewed from behind and above, with no facial features visible; Fight, depicting two goats butting heads in a rural courtyard; Going to the Fair, (figure 2.17) with three figures (shown again from 72behind) in a covered wagon; Towards the Market (figure 2.18), which depicts women withlarge bundles of firewood balanced on their heads, all moving in a strong diagonal to the right of the picture plane, again all seen from behind; Leader Lags Behind, in which a manon a domesticated water buffalo encourages onwards movement amongst other members of the herd; Homewards (figure 2.19), in which another herd of cattle are being led by a barely-discernable human figure masked in shadows at bottom right; and finally Bijoya, inwhich a young girl is portrayed sitting barefoot and cross-legged on the floor of a modest domestic space, lost in concentration in the act of writing a letter (figure 2.20). As in Call of the Himalayas, this final image included in Bengal Village in Wood Engravings represents a figure with a greater degree of personal specificity and personality than those depicted in the preceding pages. But unlike the example in Call of the Himalayas, whereinsuch specificity was used to depict a historical figure (Rabindranath Tagore), in this case although the composition is sharply different in that the human body is the clear frame of reference, nevertheless the figure’s head tilts strongly downwards preventing a clear view of her features and thus working against the idea that this is a portrait.2.3 Designed to Succeed2.3.1 Price and AudienceThe characteristics outlined for these books allowed them to function as uniquely valuabletool of self promotion and artistic distribution for professional Bengali print artists. Books 73of artists’ prints were successful for a number of reasons, but key amongst them was that they were affordable to a wide audience. While in some cases the original prices of these books can not be retraced, in several instances the price is printed on an inside cover or a colophon page (as in the two examples described above). In several other instances, the price is mentioned in surviving newspaper or journal advertisements for, or reviews of, individual books. A review of Mahindra Bhusan Gupta’s 1933 collection Impressions of aPilgrimage to Kedarnath and Badrinath in Twelve Lino-cuts, for example, mentions that the book originally sold for 15 rupees (foreign orders 30 shillings, postage extra).80 Amongst those examples where the original prices have been recorded or preserved, they have been found to range from as low as one and a half rupees to as high as 70, with the significant majority falling between three and five rupees. More will be said about the significance of this typical three-to-five rupee price in a moment, but first it is important tonote the larger range of one and a half to 70 rupees. This would have represented an enormous socio-economic gap during this period, and thus is important for understanding the potential audiences for these books of artists’ prints. It is worth pausing for a moment to look more closely at the differences between the highest and lowest end of this price scale, to suggest reasons for the difference. By far the most expensive of these books that has been so far identified is Twenty-Five Linocuts by Rani Dey, published in 1932. Although I have not yet been able to locate an archival copy of the book itself, the details of its publication are preserved in a number of 80 Our Magazine, April 1933, 5.74ephemeral items, including an advertisement that mentions the following specifications:Just Published. An Indian Lady Artist’s Impressions of Life & Nature. Twenty-Five Linocuts (all original proofs) by Rani Dey, with a decorated introduction by Rabindranath Tagore. A superb folio of Original Artist’s Proofs. Each copy numbered and all Proofs Signed. Edition limited to one hundred copies for sale. All Original Lino-Blocks destroyed. Price Rs 67-8, Packing and postage Rs. 2-8. Orders to M. Dey, 28 Chowringhee, Calcutta or Messers. W. Newman & Co, Lts., 3 Old Court House Street Calcutta.81A review of this book also appeared in The Statesman newspaper, in their “New Books” section. The review is particularly telling for the insight it offers into the precarious natureof artist employment at that time, and the potential for books such as these to offer a solution to that problem. The review reads: This book stands for a real departure in the presentation of art so far as India is concerned and in that respect is a daring venture. The difficulty in India is less to train artists than to discover the commercial return that will enable the artist to live. Here within a folder are twenty-five lino-cuts executed by Miss Rani Dey, a pupil of the Santiniketan School, excellently printed and published in a limited edition at the price of Rs. 70 by M. Dey.82Twenty-Five Linocuts was unusually expensive for the time, at 67 rupees and eight annas plus postage (i.e., 70 rupees).83 But as both the advertisement and the review make clear, this book was specifically a folio of “Original Artist’s Proofs,” with “Each copy numbered81 Our Magazine, September 1932, 17. 82  The Statesman, February 28, 1932. 83 An anna was a pre-decimilisation fraction of a rupee, in use before 1957. One rupee was equal to sixteen annas, therefore the price of 67 rupees and eight annas quoted above for Rani Dey’s book was the equivalentof 67 and one half rupees. Postage was specified as an additional two rupees and eight annas for a total cost of 70 rupees, which is the price mentioned in the review that appeared in The Statesman newspaper.  75and all Proofs Signed.” The images bound in this folio were thus promised to be designed,engraved and printed by the hand of the artist herself. Moreover, production was limited toone hundred copies, with specific mention being made of the fact that the lino-blocks usedfor printing had been subsequently destroyed, thus ensuring that no further reproduction would dilute the distinctiveness of the set. As mentioned earlier, the desire to make clear that the book was produced from original blocks (carved by Dey herself), as well as the limited edition, numbering and addition of signatures would have helped to embed this book in the discourse of “fine art printmaking” that staked a claim to the aura of originality and invested the finished products with greater value and, as a consequence, a higher price. Even if the book was never intended to be resold, and thus was not considered in terms of its investment value, the aura of originality would still have made possible a far higher original asking price for the printed book as art object on the marketplace, and would have worked to differentiate such a publication from the larger category of just illustrated books. The higher price announces prestige value, and marks the book of artist’s prints as something of a luxury item. The two next-most expensive books I have so far identified are Ramendranath Chakravorty’s Woodcut, also published in 1932, and the previously mentioned Impressions of a Pilgrimage to Kedarnath and Badrinath in Twelve Lino-cuts by Mahindra Bhusan Gupta, published in 1933. Both of these were also bound folios of original prints, “hand printed with the signature of the artist” in limited editions.84 84 Our Magazine (April 1933). 76Although still likely beyond the economic reach of many poor Bengalis (at 25 and 15 rupees respectively), these prices would have situated these books within the purview of many upper-class Bengalis as well as the lower rungs of the economic and social strata of European society at the time. It is interesting to note in this regard that both Chakravorty’sand Gupta’s books were advertised with alternative prices for overseas orders (2 guineas and 30 shillings, respectively), making it clear that the audience for such folios of original prints was at least in part beyond Indian shores. I have so far been able to identify only a few rare examples of this kind of portfolio of original artist prints, which had each image designed, carved, and hand-printed by the artist himself or herself, and which had each print individually signed and numbered by the artist. Thus far it appears that these few such examples were all produced in the early 1930s.85 In contrast, the bulk of the books of artists’ prints that I have identified were produced somewhat later, with production peaking in the late 1930s and 1940s. And on closer examination it becomes clear that these later publications are of a rather different type. Rather than being collections of original prints, these later publications contain images that were certainly based on the graphic designs supplied by artists who were particularly known for and associated with printmaking, but which were then translated into and reproduced via commercial printing presses. Rather than being hand-printed by 85 The exceptions are Chittaprosad’s Contemporary Woodcuts from India (1955) and a much later, Indian Life and Legend (1974) by Mukul Dey. In Chittaprosad’s case the shift to an American audience for this book makes a price comparison to the rest of the group difficult, while in Dey’s case this book represented a pet project of great sentimental value at the end of Dey’s career, in which he produced the volume to be given as gifts to various people, and thus a price for the volume was not a consideration. 77the artists themselves, the images in these later books were mechanically reproduced on one of the various commercial printing presses then in operation in Calcutta. In the case ofthe two books described at length above, for example, Call of the Himalayas was printed by Indian Photo Engraving Co. and distributed by the book publisher S. Shaha, while Bengal Village in Wood Engraving was printed by S.N. Guha Ray at Sree Saraswaty Press. In both cases the original woodcut and wood engraving designs produced by the artists Ramendranath Chakravorty and Haren Das were used by the commercial printing presses as the basis for their mechanically reproduced images, but these publications (along with the majority of those I have thus far identified) would nevertheless be more accurately described as books of reproductions of prints, rather than as books of original prints.86 In several cases, the resulting books of reproductions were also signed and dated by the artist and they were also released in limited editions in order to lend something of the aura of originality to the production. But the crucial result of this shift to commercial printing was that these examples of books of reproductions of prints tended to be much more affordable, with most of them being priced at between three and five rupees. I have also identified far more of this later, less expensive type of book, which would indicate that higher-priced collections of original prints were not particularly successful in striking a crucial balance between price and desirability that would have allowed them to connect to an available and motivated audience. It would appear that the early, more expensive type of publication was attempted but later abandoned in favour of the less expensive alternative. And it was instead the lower-priced books of reproductions that offered a 86 I include both types in the category of books of artists’ prints under consideration in this chapter. 78better opportunity for artists to tap into interested and motivated markets for their finished products. It is useful to compare the prices of books of artists’ prints (both folios of original prints and books of mechanically reproduced designs) to the prices paid for paintings by well-known Bengali artists during the same period. Luckily a small archive of such informationsurvives in the documentation preserved by the artist Mukul Dey. Over the course of the first few decades of the twentieth century Dey amassed a large personal collection of works by well-known contemporary artists like the various Tagores, Nandalal Bose, Asit Kumar Haldar and others. When Dey fell on difficult times in the mid-1940s following hisremoval as Principal of the Government Art School in Calcutta, he first tried to gain support for the creation of a Bengal National Museum with his personal collection at its core. When that plan failed to come to fruition, he then resorted to selling off large portions of his collection. For this purpose he printed several catalogues of works for sale, which are now kept at his eponymous archive in Santiniketan. These catalogues record that in the mid-1940s, Dey was asking between 2,000 and 4,000 rupees for paintings by Rabindranath Tagore, who although made famous for his poetry also turned to painting later in life and quickly became highly regarded as a visual artist. Dey’s catalogue also record that the price for Tagore’s drawings at this time was between 750 and 2,000 rupees,while a “palm impression” by the poet was for sale at 1,250 rupees.87 87 File 012 (dark green), Mukul Dey Archives, Santiniketan. Dey often requested that visitors to his home or studio make a palm-impression by covering a hand in ink and pressing it onto a page. He often asked for an accompanying signature from the ‘sitter.’ Several of these palm prints, including those of Tagore, W.G. Archer and Nandalal Bose, are preserved at the Mukul Dey Archives in Santiniketan. 79Such sums were enormous amounts of money at the time, and would have necessarily positioned such objects as luxury goods inaccessible to any but the smallest percentage of upper end of the socio-economic system. As a point of comparison, Mukul Dey mentions in his autobiography that as the Principal of the Government School of Art in the early 1940s, a position of significant social standing and importance, he was earning a gross monthly salary of about 1,000 rupees which, after deductions, came to about 500 or 600 rupees that he took “in hand.”88 The advertisement for the position of Principal that ran in The Statesman newspaper in 1927 mentions a gross salary scale of between 600 and 850 rupees per month, depending on qualifications and age.89 Meanwhile, the average salary atthe time for someone in a lower-middle class clerkship position, such as an office worker at a post office, was approximately 30 rupees per month.90 It seems clear that whatever art market existed at this time for paintings by well-known Bengali artists priced in the thousands of rupees, this was necessarily an elite niche market. On the other hand, books of artists’ prints (particularly the mechanically reproduced variety at the lower end of the price range) were priced affordably to appeal to a much larger segment of society. It is important to note that these books of artists’ prints did not necessarily seek to reject or alienate elite audiences, and indeed their almost exclusive use of English testifies to the fact that their public was obviously a socially-aspirant one. But 88 Mukul Dey, Amar Katha (Kolkata: Visva Bharati Press, 1995), 35. 89 The Statesman, 28 May 1927. 90 Statistical Abstract Relating to British India from 1910-11 to 1919-20 (London: His Majesty's Stationary Office, 1922), 215.  80at an average price of five rupees, these books also addressed a much wider range of socioeconomic groups, which was crucial for artists seeking to make a professional living at the time. Although it is difficult to know what an average salary would have been at this time for professional working artists, there are some indications that their financial situation was rarely comfortable. For example, when an open exhibition was held at the Darjeeling Hill Station in 1915, the prizes awarded for the best works in particular categories tended to be in the range of 30 to 50 rupees.91 In the same year, artists who advertised their services as art teachers in the classified sections of local newspapers did so while quoting an average salary of around five rupees per month.92 It would require many students for such paymentto be enough to live on. Meanwhile, positions as art teachers (or “drawing masters”) at local high schools were advertised with starting salaries of 30-35 rupees per month,93 while teaching positions at the more prestigious Government School of Art in Calcutta could range from 75 to 250 rupees per month.94 91 The Statesman, 11 June 1915. 92 The Statesman, 20 June 1915. 93 The Statesman, 4 February 1920 and 21 September 1928, for example. 94 Quinquennial Report of the Government School of Art Calcutta, for the years 1932-1937 (Calcutta: Government Printing Press, 1937), 1. 812.3.2 The Successful Translation of Print The publication of books of artists’ prints was a useful career strategy for professional Bengali artists for many reasons, not least of which was that the images contained therein were able to successfully translate through the commercially-available printing technologies that were then available in Calcutta particularly. There had been remarkable advances made in print technologies in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in the city. As a result, decent-quality printed images had suddenly become, if not ubiquitous, then at least common. A boom in pictorial journalism at the very turn of the century was due in large part to the successful experiments in half-tone printing undertaken by Upendrakishore Raychaudhuri.95 But as revolutionary as such processes were, there was still a wide fluctuation in the quality of the resulting images. For example,it was still the case that colour reproductions of paintings that circulated in illustrated journals such as Prabasi, Bharati, Bharat Barsha, and The Modern Review, tended to render the images oddly and unevenly coloured, and generally flat and lifeless (consider figure 2.21, for example). Such images were some of the highest quality colour reproductions available to Bengali readerships at that time, but they are undeniably reportage on works of art, rather than works of art in and of themselves. 95 Partha Mitter, Art and Nationalism in Colonial India. 1850-1922 (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1994), 122-124. 82In contrast, as woodcut and linocut print designs, mostly in sharp, bold contrasts of black and white space, images in books of artists’ prints were presented as an affordable work ofart whose visual impact and material characteristics were largely maintained intact through the commercial printing processes then affordably available in Bengal. In other words, at this point in time it was possible to purchase a book of rather mediocre reproductions of an artist’s paintings or photographs of his sculptures, but if one had to rely on the translation of an image through the commercially available printing processes (in order for the cost to be effectively reduced), one could not have a book of paintings in the way that one could have a book of artists’ prints. Of course, there was something of aninevitable loss of the essential tactile nature of a hand-printed page which has gone through a hand-printing press; this aspect of an original print did not translate well to books of reproductions of prints. But in many cases artists and publishers attempted to recapture something of the essential and valuable haptic quality of an original print through the use of coarse, hand-made paper and rough-edged pages in the resulting books.96 It is useful to compare, as an example, the quality of the images in any of these books of artists’ prints to a rare example of a book of the same period that presents readers with reproductions of photographs of sculpture, by the artist Prodosh Das Gupta (figure 2.22). Or we could compare the quality of these printed images to reproductions of a variety of media contained in Sudhir Khastgir’s book Myself (1955), which includes reproductions 96 This practice is evident in books by Haren Das, Mukul Dey, and Chittaprosad, for example.  83of his prints, paintings, drawings, and sculpture (figures 2.23, 2.24 and 2.25). Such comparisons immediately reveal the deficiencies of the reproductions of the period that were not based on graphic print designs. It was this inherent translatability of print that allowed for a successful shift from books of original prints to books of reproductions of prints, and it was the latter that would be able to successfully appeal to a much larger socio-economic category of potential viewers/patrons.2.3.3 Direct AdvertisingThis translatability of printed images through the commercially available printing processes available in Bengal also had a profound effect on another characteristic of these books that helped to render them successful and popular. As I suggested in the previous chapter, the exhibition and gallery-based art market in Bengal in the late colonial period was extremely limited, and socially circumscribed where it did occur. Such environments tended to be spaces for the performance of elite sociality rather than sites of commercial exchange such as would be needed by professional working artists. Such artists, either restricted from participating in salon-style exhibitions or unsatisfied with the limited financial gain to be had from them, often turned to direct advertising through newspapers and magazines as a kind of exhibitionary alternative, which could allow them to connect their artwork to the general public. While there are many examples of works of art being sold through classified ads in local newspapers throughout this period, it was artists who specialized in printmaking rather than painting or sculpture for whom this strategy could 84prove particularly effective. The printed image offered a reasonably accurate sense of the actual artwork for sale, so the idea was made clear visually—not just textually—to a wide audience of potential buyers. We know that some printmaking artists during this period placed advertisements for their individual prints in magazines and journals. Mukul Dey, for example, advertised a drypoint etching titled Festive Season in the August 5, 1945 issue of the Illustrated Weekly of India (figure 2.26). In addition to a providing a thorough listing of Dey’s credentials that would qualify him as a respectable artist,97 the advertisement also explains that for a price of 150 rupees, interested parties could receive an original drypoint etching, taken from a limited edition of five copies only. The entire transaction is set out as a postalexchange, with payment and the work itself moving back and forth between artist and collector without any in-person interaction required. Importantly, the image itself is depicted in the ad, so that prospective purchasers could see that the artwork represented three tribal or rural male figures involved in the production of festive music, each drumming or blowing on a flute or conch shell. A comparison between the version of the image contained in the ad in the Illustrated Weekly of India and an actual original print of this image hand-printed by Dey himself (figure 2.27) reveals that while much of the subtlenuance of shading and texture is indeed lost in the translation to an advertising image, 97 The text at the right of the ad reads: “A.R.C.A (London.) M.C.S.E (USA), I.E.S., & B.S.E.S. (retd.), F.R.S.A., Formerly Principal, Government School of Art, Calcutta. Keeper, Government Art Gallery, IndianMuseum, Calcutta, etc. (1928 to 1943). First Indian Painter-Engraver, First Indian Exhibitor R.A. London, Receiver of Their Imperial Majesties’ Royal Command in London – 1927. Etc.” The acronyms stand for, respectively: Associate of the Royal College of Art, Member of the Chicago Society of Etchers, Indian Educational Service, Bengal Senior Educational Service, and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. 85nevertheless key details about the figures’ grouping and movement is communicated, along with the overall linear nature of the composition. Such visual information would have been critical to securing an invested audience through magazines and postal exchanges. It was not only individual, unique prints that were marketed and sold through magazines and newspapers. Printmaking artists like Ramendranath Chakravorty and Chittaprosad also used this medium to advertise and market their books of artists’ prints, along with representative images. Chakravorty’s book Woodcut, published in 1932, was advertised in the Government Art School journal Our Magazine for example, with the majority of the ad being comprised of a large black and white illustration of a flock of ducks (figure 1.22).Similarly, Chittaprosad’s 1955 book Contemporary Woodcuts from India was advertised in a journal marketed as a “reminiscing magazine… by and for former members of the U.S. Units stationed in the China-Burma-India Theatre” (figure 1.21). The ad features clear examples of the images that the book contains. Further connections exist between the use of advertising by professional print artists to selltheir work directly to an interested public, and the uses of print and advertising outlined in the introductory chapter (as a field of employment for commercial artists, a way to advertise as an art teacher, or to connect to buyers and sell artwork directly instead of through galleries and exhibitions). The graphic nature of this body of work in general would have been critical for all facets of this phenomenon862.3.4 Between Battala and the Drawing RoomBooks of artists’ prints also owed a great deal of their success to the particular manner in which they were embedded in the larger history of print media and technologies in Bengal particularly, and in South Asia generally. While a boom in print media and technology haslong been associated with the emergence of an early modern identity in Europe and in other parts of Asia from the fifteenth century onwards, as John Richards has pointed out, printing was the one exception to South Asia's participation in a wide range of early modern world processes.98 In fact, although wood-block printing techniques had been in use for centuries in South Asia for textile dying and decoration, and although there had been an isolated flurry of printing activity undertaken by the Jesuits in Goa in the sixteenthcentury, it was not until the end of the eighteenth and then over the course of the nineteenth century that printing was taken up with fervour in South Asia, particularly in the new colonial capital of British India: Calcutta. At first the new industry of printing wasdominated by Europeans, but as many of the early entrepreneurs employed Indian assistants it was not long before Indians trained in engraving and printing began to establish their own printing presses as well. The first of these Indian-run presses in 98 John F. Richards, “Early Modern India and World History,” Journal of World History, vol. 8, no. 2 (1997): 207-208. The other characteristics he identifies as constitutive of an early modern world view are: increasingly complex and efficient global transportation networks (with associated long-distance commerce and interconnected, global economies); the growth of both large, stable states and human populations; intensification of land use and expansion into so-called settler frontiers; and participation with the technologies of new world crop production, gunpowder, and printing. Of these, he concludes that only in thefield of printing did early modern South Asia differ from Europe.  87Calcutta appeared in the northern neighbourhood of Battala, and although others soon opened for business in adjoining neighbourhoods or paras like Baghbazar, Kumortuli, andothers, the name battala continues to be a general designator for the entire phenomenon of a vernacular Bengali printing industry that flourished in Calcutta generally from about the late eighteenth to the very early twentieth centuries.99 The battala publishing world was fundamentally a pulp press industry, characterized by cheap paper and cheap prices and oriented almost exclusively to the Bengali-reading market. Battala publishing covered all manner of subject matter including biography, histories, erotica, drama, poetry, and mysteries. One of the staples of the industry was the production of annual almanacs that featured astrological charts and comparative Bengali and western calendars. Most of the printing was done using woodcut print, but in some cases sets of metal letterpress were also in use. The battala industry was already booming in the early nineteenth century when a few books began to experiment with woodcut illustrations to decorate or accompany the printed texts.100 Very soon there appears to have developed a market for full-page images in woodcut, sold separately from bound books but often produced by and purchased from the same publishers. These single-page display prints were soon sold in large quantities 99 I use the capital-B “Battala” when referring to the specific Calcutta neighbourhood or para, and the lower-case-b “battala” to indicate the broader system of cheap, popular publishing that occurred in various geographic locations in the city in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. 100 The first Bengali book that included images was printed in 1816. Illustrated almanacs and periodicals soon followed. Illustrated books printed from European presses in Calcutta that were beyond the purview of “battala publishing” had also been printed somewhat earlier. 88for a few annas each. Subject matter was often religious or mythological, with images of deities being the most popular (figure 2.28). But battala images were also printed of pictures of flora and fauna (figure 2.29), and even contemporary social commentary and scandal (see figure 2.30).101 Like the images reproduced in the books of artists’ prints discussed earlier in this chapter, the battala images presented readers with compositions ofsharp and distinctive black and white space, they were relatively inexpensive, and they occupied a similar position between book illustration and individual display imagery. It would seem, therefore, that by the time the books of artists’ prints emerged in the early twentieth century, audiences in Calcutta were already familiar with the commodity of inexpensive collections of images in book form, particularly when those images were woodcut and linocut designs. The battala world of print production would have been well known to printmaking artists like Ramendranath Chakravorty, Mukul Dey, Sudhir Khastgir, Devi Prosad Roy Chowdhury, and Haren Das. But all of these artists would also have been somewhat removed from the battala print world by virtue of their academic art school training. 101 The history of battala printing is a fascinating one but unfortunately the demands of this chapter allow no more than a brief survey – that, at least, is absolutely necessary for understanding the kinds of books of artists’ prints that come later and which are my particular focus here. However, for more on the world of battala publishing in late colonial Bengal, interested readers would do well to explore the recent work of Anindita Ghosh, for example, Power in Print: Popular Publishing and the Politics of Language and Culturein a Colonial Society (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006); “Revisiting the 'Bengal Renaissance': Literary Bengali and Low-Life Print in Colonial Calcutta,” Economic and Political Weekly (2002); and “Cheap Books, ‘Bad’ Books: Contesting Print Cultures in Colonial Bengal.” South Asia Research (1998). In addition to Ghosh’s newer contributions to the field, there is also the older but still very useful Woodcut Prints of Nineteenth Century Calcutta, Ashit Paul, ed. (Calcutta: Seagull, 1983).89By the 1920s, the battala woodblock printing industry had largely been supplanted by cheaper lithographic technologies, while a new generation of artists was emerging from the art schools and colleges with new training in relief printing techniques and practices that emphasized the agency and mark-making of the artist and the creation of so-called unique prints that were individually signed and numbered and thus imbued with the prestige of the modern, independent artist-creator. As mentioned earlier, Mukul Dey studied printmaking for several years abroad, first in the United States and later in England. When he returned to India he was appointed as the first Indian Principal of the Government School of Art in Calcutta, where he instituted a new policy whereby students had to work the printed plates themselves—they could no longer simply execute a design in pen or pencil and then give it to an engraver for the design to be executed on a printing plate.102 As we saw earlier, the emphasis on hand-numbering, limited editions, and artist signatures became a means by which print artists could stake a claim for the legitimacy of their art, vis-à-vis painting. All of these strategies, along with the credentials and academictraining of the printmaking artists in question, worked to separate the books of artists’ prints, and the artists who created them, from the world of battala publishing.103 102 J.C. Bagal, “History,” 45.103 Battala labour was not a traditional caste-based profession printing and publishing, being as they were a newly emerged industry. Studies of the names of battala engravers reveals that they came from a variety of caste professions, including goldsmiths, ironsmiths, and even a few Brahmins. Nevertheless, there was a clear distinction between the battala artists and the world of academically trained artists. See Nikhil Sarkar, “Calcutta Woodcuts: Aspects of a Popular Art,” in Woodcut Prints of Nineteenth Century Calcutta, Asit Paul ed. (Calcutta; Seagull, 1983), 17-19.  90Books of artists’ prints were also related to another group of printed images, which represented the opposite end of the social-economic scale to that of the battala publishing world. Extremely expensive volumes of printed reproductions of paintings depicting scenes of India done by European artists had been in circulation, both in India and in Europe, since as early as the eighteenth century. An early example is the work of John Zoffany (1733-1810), a German neoclassical painter who was in Calcutta and Lucknow between 1783 and 1789. Zoffany’s portraits and historical studies in oil made him popular amongst the elite in India, and upon his return to Europe Zoffany had many of his paintings translated into mezzotint engravings by Richard Earldom. These were published in London in several volumes over the course of the very end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth centuries.104 Similar projects followed by François Balthazar Solvyns (1760-1824), Sir Charles D’Oyly (1781-1845), and the uncle-and-nephew team ofThomas and William Daniell (1749-1840 and 1769-1837, respectively). Even well into theearly twentieth century, extravagant publications such as Lady Herringham’s Ajanta Frescoes (subtitle: Being reproductions in colour and monochrome of frescoes in some of the caves at Ajanta after copies taken in the years 1909-1911) continued to present printedreproductions of painted imagery in elaborate, highly expensive volumes for elite audiences. Variously concerned with the picturesque depiction of the Indian landscape, romanticized views of “ruins” and other ancient architecture, or the classification and cataloguing of Indian flora, fauna, and human populations, what all of these lavish 104 Mildred Archer, “The Peoples of India,” in India, A Pageant of Prints, ed. Pauline Rohatgi and Pheroza Godrej (Mumbai: Marg, 1989), 1. 91publications had in common was an audience that was absolutely limited to the elite upperclasses. But it seems clear that both the upper and lower ends of the socio-economic scale in Bengal at this time were familiar with the idea of collecting prints in a book format. When the books of artists’ prints began to appear in the early twentieth century, the kinds of relief print images that they tended to contain occupied a unique position at a distance from (but still connected to) a street-level popularity of the battala printing world, while the format of books of collections of prints was also reminiscent of elite status objects familiar to the upper echelons of society. In addition, these books were also overlaid with new connotations of reified art practice, specialized training and equipment, and the new reliance on official certification as a mark of qualification and professional status. The particular conflux of overlapping regimes of value were playing out in printing and printedimages in a way that allowed these books to function effectively for artists struggling to establish and maintain reputations and livelihoods during this period. This constellation of manifest possibilities—involving the aura of the modern, individual artist, nostalgia for a popular art of the recent past, and prices targeted exactly to the right audience—all crucially combined to actualize these books as important tools in the performance of professional artistic identity in the colonial South Asian context. 922.3.5  Making Use of the Status of LiteratureAnother crucial quality of these books of artists’ prints that made them such a useful strategy and tool for professional artists at the time was the way they tapped into the centrality of literature, books, and the written word in Bengali cultural identity. Statistics regarding the mushrooming numbers of books, newspapers, and journals published in Bengal and Calcutta over the course of the nineteenth and early twentieth century are in stark contrast to what we encountered in the previous chapter regarding the stagnant interest in art galleries and exhibitions over the same period. Graham Shaw has meticulously documented the early presses in Bengal, noting that about 40 were in operation between 1770 and 1800, mostly involved in the publication of newspapers.105  Large-scale book publication took off after the establishment of the Serampore Press in 1800, which consolidated much of the printing and publishing that was then taking place in Bengal. Between 1801 and 1832, it is estimated that roughly 212,000 copies of books in40 different languages were published from the Serempore Press alone.106 By the early decades of the twentieth century, these statistics had ballooned to more than 740 printing presses, 120 newspapers, and 200 periodicals in Bengal.107 These numbers are an indication of the voracious appetite for written and published material in Bengal in the latecolonial period. Indeed, at a time when an audience for art scarcely existed, an audience 105 Graham Shaw, Printing in Calcutta to 1800 (London: Bibliographical Society, 1981). 106 Abbijit Bhattacharya, Report on printed Bengali language material in different institutional and private collections in West Bengal and Bangladesh (Kolkata: Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, n.d.), n.p.  107 Statistical Abstract Relating to British India from 1910-11 to 1919-20 (London: His Majesty's Stationary Office, 1922), 124. 93for literature ran rampant. Publishing collections of images in book format allowed artists to reach out to a nascent readership for art by connecting to the immense cultural capital enjoyed by literature and literary celebrities of the day. A fairly clear and elegant example of this kind of cross-promotion in action is the book Fifteen Drypoints published in 1939, which pairs printed images by Mukul Dey with poems on the same subject by Harindranath Chattopadhayay. Such projects connected Mukul Dey’s art to an audience that it might not otherwise have come into contact with (and of course vice versa for Chattopadhayay’s poetry). Books of artists’ prints were also able to take advantage of the status of literature and the written/published word by functioning as a sign or testimony of the artists’ legitimacy and standing. When presented to prospective employers, patrons, or anyone else one wished toimpress, a published book with one’s name on it functioned as a bona fide that could sometimes open otherwise closed doors. In a recently-published collection of translated letters from the artist Chittaprosad, he mentions his book of prints, Contemporary Woodcuts from India (1955), in an anecdote that casts light on the way such books could function as objects of social exchange. In a letter dated June 27, 1959, Chittaprosad recounts that the defence minister for India came to his neighbourhood in Bombay in order to deliver a speech, the message of which Chittaprosad disagreed with. In his estimation, the minster was goading poor voters to always sacrifice for their country, and not to concern themselves with anything but 94constant work. Chittaprosad especially disliked the fact that this minster, who was from Gujarat, gave his entire speech in English and at full speed, thus making everything but the constant refrain of “Vote Congress!” unintelligible to the audience. In the letter, Chittaprosad says he asked the minister how the people who wanted to work were supposed to find jobs in the current political and economic situation. He writes that the minister at first ignored the question, but then promised to answer it personally later. But, when someone whispered in the minister’s ear that the man in the crowd asking the question was a Communist and an artist, the minister quickly left, displaying “visible signsof being scared.”108 Later this event was discussed at length amongst those in the neighbourhood, and Chittaprosad was advised to send the minister his “American folio,” (i.e., the book Contemporary Woodcuts from India). The rationale for this is not entirely clear; perhaps the volume was meant simply as a gesture of goodwill, or possibly it was intended to convince the minister not to seek retribution for the embarrassing exchange. Or perhaps, by giving his publication of woodcut prints, Chittaprosad sought to open the door again to the possibility of what the minister had initially offered: a personal meeting and an answer to his question. Perhaps all of these motivations played a part.But by far the most usual way that books of artists’ prints connected to the literary world was by securing a suitably impressive guest author for the introductory or dedicatory text. Almost every example of these books contains this kind of celebrity author endorsement. 108 Chittaprosad, Translated Excerpts from Select Letters of Chittaprosad, trans. Sanjoy Kumar Mallik (New Delhi: Delhi Art Gallery, 2011), 46-47.  95Ads for Ramendranath Chakravorty’s Woodcut (1932) for example, highlighted that it hadan introduction by Rabindranath Tagore. Chakravorty’s later book Woodcuts (1944) also includes introductions from both Tagore and the literary critic and intellectual Amiya Chakravarty. Rani Dey’s, Twenty-Five Linocuts (1932) had an illustrated introduction from Tagore, while Ten Wood Engravings by Students of the Government School of Art (1944) included an introduction from the renowned Bengali intellectual and author Niharranjan Ray. Similarly, Chittaprosad’s Contemporary Woodcuts from India (1955) included an introductory text by the well-known author and art critic Mulk Raj Anand.In this world of celebrity literary and cultural endorsements and dedications, there was no one more sought-after amongst Bengali artists at this time than the Nobel-prize winning Rabindranath Tagore. When such a text from Tagore was forthcoming, both the artist and the publisher made sure to promote the fact when selling the book. Thus we find that both Rani Dey’s book of Twenty-five Linocuts and Ramendranath Chakravorty’s book Woodcut, which are both advertised on the same page of the same issue of Our Magazine (the student-run publication of the Government School of Art in Calcutta in the 1930s), also both make sure to advertise that the books include introductory texts from Tagore.109 Indeed, Mukul Dey later recorded in his autobiography Amar Katha something of the intense demand for Tagore’s endorsement in such endeavours; he recounts how once during this period he playfully confronted Tagore about his habit of writing dedications for every “Tom Dick and Harry.” Dey records that Tagore immediately blushed at this 109 Our Magazine (December 1932), 17. 96accusation and replied: “Since when are you concerned with such mundane things? You are a creative man whose head is in the clouds, you are above such matters.”110 This anecdote is particularly revealing because it highlights the very difficult social space that had to be navigated by artists in Bengal at this time who–on the one hand–had to hustle, negotiate and self-promote in order to survive by their art, but at the same time in order to be socially accepted as a “true artist,” they could not appear to be concerned with mundane, material matters such as earning a living. As pointed out earlier, at this time the culturally aspirant in Bengali society tended to subscribe to the notion that the creation of art and literature was something that occurred “within a space beyond necessity and outside the limits of the requirements of human livelihood.”111 It was during this period from about the 1920s onwards that the Bengali literary elite, spearheaded by RabindranathTagore himself, sought to more clearly distinguish between the terms kristhi and sanskriti (that is, between cultivation and culture): wherein the former had connotations of everyday matters and, worse yet, physical labour, while the latter implied a more spiritual or cerebral endeavour of personal improvement and was understood to be the realm of art and literature. As we will see, this pressure to separate the world of art from the demands of physical labour would manifest in interesting ways in many of the individual images depicting rural subject matter that were contained in books of artists’ prints. 110 In the text, the English phrase “Tom, Dick and Harry” is transliterated into Bengali script as “tom, diken, hyari.” Mukul Dey, Amar Katha (Santiniketan: Visva Bharati Press, 1995), 46. See Appendix A for more details related to this translation. 111 Niharranjan Roy, Krishti kalcar sanskriti (Calcutta, Jijnasa, 1978), quoted in Andrew Sartori, Bengal in Global Concept History: Culturalism in the Age of Capital (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008), 3.972.4 The Rural and the Urban As the preceding sections have argued, books of artists’ prints were successful in large part because many of their material qualities rendered them particularly appealing to a wide range of audiences in Bengal during the early twentieth century. In this section I would like to argue that these books were also successful in large part because they were also able to negotiate a productive and appealing position with regards to the intense relationship between the rural and the urban that influenced Bengali cultural identity and modern art. The complexities of the relationship between village and urban India can not be easily explained or quickly encapsulated. The image of an idealized Indian village is very present in the minds of Indian urbanites, and this was particularly true during the late colonial period. For waves of displaced villagers who came to Calcutta over the course of the early decades of the twentieth century, the countryside they left behind existed in a state of the shadow-monumental: urgent in its absence, and necessary in its fictionalization. For urban Calcuttans, the village was often the site of intense childhood memories, of extended family connections and obligations, a symbol and experience of fecundity and fertility, and a source of nationalist identity that challenged the notion that modernity must necessarily equate with urbanity. Robert Siegle has noted that this 98especially manifested itself in literary fiction of the period, in which the village appears as a kind of Arcadian image of the pre-modern, and as “the national shibboleth of [Indian] self-identity”: In the mytho-cultural life of the nation, Village is always already asign for the urbanite’s dream of a community, raised with sufficient homogeneity of culture and blood that warmth and deeply shared assumptions bind together its members. Though in reality bound together by established power and unofficial violence, ‘Village’ functions as the place holder for the harmonization of social and gender differences. It is the sign for anideally functioning caste society in which reciprocal responsibilities bind everyone in humanely conducted relations of caring and tending: a feudal utopia.112In the books of artists’ prints considered in this chapter, by far the most common type of images they contain are representations of bucolic landscapes and primitivizing tribal scenes. These representations of peaceful rural pastiches appear usually uninhabited, but sometimes peopled with (a) untroubled and anonymous (often faceless) peasants, or (b) stereotypical images of archaic tribal peoples that tend to stand in as antidotes for or alternatives to a technological modernity. These two types are by no means mutually exclusive, and it is useful to consider them together. Both of the books described in detail earlier in this chapter—Haren Das’s Bengal Village in Wood Engraving (1950) and Ramendranath Chakravorty’s Call of the Himalayas (1944)—exemplify the kind of image to which I allude: reassuring tropes in relief print 112 Robert Siegle, Mirror to Mirror: Postmodernity in South Asian Fiction (digitally published by the Centerfor Digital Discourse and Culture at Virginia Tech, 2002), n.p.99that depict the myth of the eternal, reassuring, pre-modern village utopia. In almost every image in these two books every peasant figure is depicted anonymously, either from a back view or else with their facial features so erased as to render the overall effect positively uncanny. As mentioned earlier, the only figure given the dignity of specificity in Chakravorty’s book is the small portrait of Rabindranath Tagore. Other figures are small and indistinct, in some cases barely seeming to emerge from their surrounding landscape (figures 2.6 to 2.13). In Das’s book, rather than achieving anonymity through distance from the subjects, the viewer is almost always positioned behind and above the peasant figures represented, rendering them as objects to be observed from a position of dominance. We see the back of heads, or heads in outline profile with the features indistinct (figures 2.15 to 2.19). This is particularly striking in two images of similar composition: Towards the Market (figure 2.18) and Homewards (figure 2.19). The former depicts a line of cattle in a strong diagonal from right to left, while the latter shows a similar procession of women carrying bundles in a mirror-like composition going from left to right. Seen presented together within the pages of Bengal Village in Wood Engraving, these two images encourage a similar attitude of detached observation in relation to both the animal and human occupants of rural Bengal. Cattle and peasant are rendered anonymous equivalents. Das’s and Chakravorty’s books were certainly not the only examples of this tendency to deny the specificity of village and rural subjects. Many other artists explored this subject matter and its treatment, and there are various individual images that repeat a similar 100formula in other books like Mukul Dey’s Fifteen Drypoints (1939), Ten Wood Engravingsby Students of the Government School of Art, Calcutta (1944), Ramendranath Chakravorty’s Woodcuts (1944), Chittaprosad’s Contemporary Woodcuts From India (1955), and Sudhir Khastgir’s Myself (1955). These images of an uncomplicated tribal countryside, represented as bountiful, peaceful and reassuring, in many ways participate inwhat art historian Partha Mitter has described as a unique Indian manifestation of a more globally felt primitivist discourse of the period. It is true that these books appear at a time when many Bengali artists, including Jamini Roy, Ramkinkar Baij and others, were increasingly turning towards tribal and rural subjectmatter as a way of seeking alternative visual vocabularies with which to explore the experience of Indian modernity through confrontation with its Other. In the South Asian context, this primitivism charted unique and local trajectories that connected at times to both a Gandhian veneration of village life and with an Orientalist search for a primitive Other amongst South Asia’s tribal communities. But as Mitter argues, it shared with nativist and primitivist movements elsewhere in the world a sense of “the romantic longing of a complex society for the simplicity of pre-modern existence.”113113 Mitter, The Triumph of Modernism, 33.1012.4.1 The Tribal Trope: Images of SantalsIn his most recent book Partha Mitter explores the portrayal of the Santals, today the largest tribal community in India who occupy areas primarily in the north-eastern states and in neighbouring Bangladesh. Often visually and textually imagined within the discourses of Indian anthropology, art, and literature in the early twentieth century as pastoral innocents or noble savages uncorrupted by the trappings modern life, the Santals' role in and experience of Indian modernity by that time had in fact already been both violent and profound.114 During the late colonial period in India, Santals were increasingly made the subject (though never the active subjects) of a wide variety of linguistic, cultural,musicological and religious investigations. This kind of intensified interest in studying anddocumenting various tribal groups such as the Santals during this period was undoubtedly intimately connected to the imagining and enforcing of systems imperial knowledge and control, as the emerging disciplines of biology, anthropology, geography and linguistics worked with, alongside, and at times even against the ongoing entrenchment of colonial power.115 114 For details on the Santal Rebellion and its brutal suppression by British colonial forces in 1855-56, see Narahari Kaviraj, Santal Village Community and the Santal Rebellion (Calcutta: Subarnarekha, 2001) or Prathama Banerjee, “Re-presenting Pasts: Santals in Nineteenth-century Bengal,” in History and the Present, edited by Partha Chatterjee and Anjan Ghosh (Delhi: Permanent Black, 2002). On the textual and visual representation in of the Santal rebellion in popular journals of the period, see Daniel J. Rycroft, Representing Rebellion: Visual Aspects of Counter-Insurgency in Colonial India (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2006).115 On the role of collecting, documenting and archiving as a part of the colonial system and process, see Nicholas Dirks, Castes of Mind: Colonialism and the Making of Modern India (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001) and Thomas Richards, The Imperial Archive: Knowledge and the Fantasy of Empire(London and New York: Verso, 1993). Examples of key anthropological and linguistic studies on Santals undertaken during the late colonial period include the work of Raghunath Murmu and Byomkes Chakrabarti in documenting and codifying the Santal language, as well as the study and cataloging of Santal medicine 102During the early decades of the twentieth century this drive to document and record tribal groups such as the Santals also became particularly tied to the practices and discourses of colonial modernity in India. As Mitter convincingly argues based on a selection of Santal images by a number of different artists in a variety of media, this kind of rural, tribal imagery necessarily idealized as it objectified Santal life, glossing over many of the harsh realities of the Santals’ lives and socio-economic position in order to present them as innocent and child-like. Mitter's arguments make important connections to recent scholarship that has been done on the deconstruction of the myth of “the primitive”, and the argument that such categories were always necessarily constructions from outside and beyond: that is, that the designations “primitive art” or “primitive cultures” were necessarily ideologically driven (and constantly renegotiated) responses to the experience of modernizing forces such as industrialization, urbanization, statism, nationalism and colonialism.116Mitter's exegesis of “the primitive” is particularly important for understanding certain aspects of the late colonial Bengali art world, but it has already been criticized for its focussing too much on the elite segments of Indian society while overlooking much of the socially engaged work of the progressive and Marxist-oriented artists in Calcutta during and folklore by the Norwegian-born missionary Paul Olaf Bodding.116 See, for example, Fred Myers, “’Primitivism,’ Anthropology, and the Category of ‘Primitive’ Art,” in Handbook of Material Culture, ed. Chris Tilley et. al. (London: Sage Publications, 2006), 268-284. Also Daniel Miller, “Primitive Art and the Necessity of Primitivism to Art,” in The Myth of Primitivism: Perspectives on Art, ed. Susan Hiller (London and New York: Routledge, 1991), 35-52.103the 1940s.117 As valuable as Mitter’s work is, it also largely avoids the issue of media-specificity. The examples of Santal imagery that Mitter includes in his discussion are in a variety of media, including Sunil Janah’s photographs (figure 2.31), Devi Prosad Roy Chowdhury’s watercolours (figure 2.32), Benodebehari’s murals, and Ramkinkar Baij’s sculptures (figure 2.33). But the different and various material possibilities opened up and articulated by such media are not explored, except where Mitter suggests that the coarse, rough surfaces of Ramkinkar Baij's famous outdoor sculptures of Santals in Santiniketan are “commensurate with the ruggedness of [the Santals'] lives.”118 Aside from this one comment, Mitter for the most part subsumes any significance related to media and material difference under the overarching argument that tribal and rural imagery was a manifestation of the modern Indian discourse of primitivism. This leaves open the opportunity to investigate the material nature and affects of particularSantal images, with particular attention paid to the possibilities manifest by printmaking media. By looking closely at the visual/bodily relationships that are produced between viewer and image in printmaking media, this may complicate or further nuance the “primitivist” arguments of scholars like Mitter. Although none of the examples discussed by Mitter include images produced using printmaking technologies, there were in fact 117 Iftikhar Dadi has criticized Mitter for not fully developing a theoretical framework for his text, while Rebecca Brown suggests that more constructive work could be done in holistically critiquing the modern itself, rather than merely adding to its cannon by telling stories “from the periphery,” as she claims Mitter’s project does. Ifkithar Dadi, “The Triumph of Modernism” (review article), Art Bulletin, vol. 90, no. 4 (2008), 652. Rebecca Brown, “Provincilizing Modernity: From Derivative to Foundational,” Art Bulletin, vol. 90, no. 4 (2008), 555.118 Mitter, The Triumph of Modernism, 96. 104many etchings, engravings, and woodblock prints of Santal subject matter made by Bengali artists during this period, including several that can be found in the pages of the books of artists’ prints that are the focus of this chapter. In considering two such Santal images made using reproductive techniques of printmaking in the arguments that follow, I wish to make a case for attending closely to the lines and marks of the printmaking process and to the experience of bodily engagement with printed and reproduced imagery at this historical moment in India. Such an analysis may not run counter to the insights offered by the deconstruction of primitivism as it is outlined by Mitter, but neither can its observations be entirely or adequately contained by that particular analytical framework. Therefore, as Fred Myers has suggested regarding the interpretation of so-called primitive art objects, I wish to attend “to the ways in which material qualities of objects suppressed within this categorical formation [of primitivist discourse] may persist, and have potential for new readings and alternative histories.”119Something of the particular material significance of printmaking in Indian modern art can be illustrated, I believe, through a consideration of Mukul Dey's drypoint engraving Fulki:A Santal Girl (also called Dream Lonely), published in his book Fifteen Drypoints in 1939(figure 2.34), and Ramendranath Chakravorty's The Santal Dance, done in woodcut and included in his book Woodcut in 1944 (figure 2.35). These images appear at first glance tobe quite different. The clear marks of Chakravorty's gouges into the woodblock matrix areevident in his woodcut, which depicts an animated group of Santal men and women in a 119 Myers, “’Primitivism,’ Anthropology, and the Category of ‘Primitive’ Art,” 268. 105circular movement of music and dance in an outdoor setting. The bold, large fields of black and white space (so typical of woodcut print) point immediately to the labour of the hand of the artist in carving the surface of the wood matrix. John Ruskin's analysis of wood engraving famously drew attention to the plow-like nature of the wood engraver's tools, and compared the carving of a woodcut to the creation of furrows in fields. Ruskin's theories were particularly relevant and circulated widely in late colonial India. There has been much valuable scholarship done on the complex ways that the Arts & Crafts movement was connected with Orientalist scholarship in the work of E.B. Havell, Ananda Coomaraswamy and others.120 Certainly the agricultural allusions conjured by woodcut printing that Ruskin proposes would have been readily acknowledged and understood by alate colonial audience for art in India that was conversant with the attitudes and rhetoric ofthe Arts & Crafts movement, and woodcut prints would have necessarily carried connotations of agriculture and village life. Both the awareness of the-block-that-has-been-carved, as well as the subsequent raised-relief surface of the printed page after it has been pressed against the deeply-carved surface, make woodcut the most sculptural of all printed media. In contrast, the delicate incised lines drawn by Mukul Dey on the metal plate for his imageFulki or Dream Lonely have thrown up slender, exiguous ridges that held the ink for printing. Drypoint is a direct and subtle technique requiring few specialist tools and none of the chemical baths involved in other forms of etching, but which results in a visual 120 See, for example, Guha-Thakurta, The Making of a New 'Indian' Art, 148-149.  106effect here of accomplished delicacy and penmanship, rather than the connotation of the plowing of a field. Unlike Chakravorty's community of movement surrounded by the floraof rural India, here the isolated, eroticized, and anonymous figure occupies an empty 'no-space,' with no environmental or contextual details detracting from the beautifully exotic female body presented for display. Despite these differences, what these two images have in common is their imagining within a matrix of repetition. Both images are conceived and presented as multiples: as instances in a series, and as gestures towards a non-present other that is complicit in that series (whether that non-present other is imagined as the printing matrix, the other prints in the series, or the labour of the artist). The choice of reproductive techniques by both Dey and Chakravorty is connected, I believe, to the self-conscious, self-referential nature and experience of Indian modern art at this time, insofar as “an essential part of being modern is thinking you are modern.”121 Notions of being modern were introduced to Indian art already embedded with the assumption that modernity and modern art were things that first arose in Europe and were then transported or spread elsewhere throughout the world in various ways. Such ideas have continued to have a major impact in South Asia, where one's own modernity has often been imagined in some ways as a being a copy, a mimicry, or a strange variant of the Western experience of modernity.122 It is in this copying, this repeating, and this gesturing beyond the individual image to that which 121 C.A. Bayly, The Birth of the Modern World, 10.122 Sudipta Kaviraj, “An Outline of a Revisionist Theory of Modernity,” 497-526.107is felt and known but which is not present, which I believe makes printed imagery such as those discussed in this chapter particularly eloquent in the negotiation and performance of modernity and modern art in India in the late colonial period. Thus images like Dey’s and Chakravorty’s, while they do participate in the primitivizing of the rural and the tribal that was a part of urban Bengali modernity in the early twentieth century, also very actively participate in the anxiety over uniqueness and originality that haunted that same modernity.  2.4.2 The No-Space of the RuralThe strange “no-space” observed in Mukul Dey’s Fulki: A Santal Girl is by no means an isolated case; it is, in fact, one of the recurring characteristics of many of the bucolic landscapes that, along with tribal imagery like that of the Santals, comprise the largest category of images contained in books of artists’ prints. This is because, although representationally these prints combine landscape and both human and animal figures in a surrounding space that appears to be exclusively rural, this easy association is complicated by the fact that there is often only minimal articulation of any kind of perspectival, comprehensible space in these images. Consider, for example, the image titled The Hill People’s Home by Ramendranath Chakravorty, which was included in the book Call of the Himalayas (figure 2.12). The title of the piece immediately locates the scene in the impoverished northeast regions of 108South Asia, and the scene depicts a rustic village building set in a field that is being harvested. But rather than offering the viewer a vista of reassuring, fecund landscape, hereinstead there are repeated, static geometric marks and patterns that are used to simply suggest or imply ripened fields. There is a strange kind of no-space that exists, on one level, as the lack of specificity or detail regarding any particular scene or location; in otherwords, this is no specific harvest, this is the idea of harvest-ness. The figures in the landscape are interchangeable and anonymous types devoid of facial features, rather than figures of well-defined individuals. Their very forms mimic the shape and the textures of their surroundings, dissolving the figures into the land they are ideologically bound to. At this level, the sense of no-space is almost indistinguishable from that conjured in rural or tribal subject matter across different media like painting that emerge from approximately the same time and place. Whether in painting, sculpture or print, images from this time and place that present anonymous images of the countryside and its inhabitants have this particular kind of no-space in common. There is obviously a major risk that this vague no-space can work to gloss over many of the harsh realities of rural life at this time, with its vulnerability to disease, famine and poverty. We must consider that Chakravorty’s image was created when the countryside was still recovering from the terrible trauma of the Bengal Famine of 1943 which, as we will see in further details in chapter four, underscored all of the dangers inherent in ignoring the specificity of rural reality. Yet this is exactly what Chakravorty’s image does, by evacuating all such detail in order to make images of rural India palatable to an urban audience, such details of specificity are ignored. 109But there is also another sense in which these images evoke a no-space (or how they evoke no space) which is peculiar to the medium of relief printing, and which seriously complicates the primitivist vision of both the peasant and of the artisan-artist. Space in these images appears to be flattened against the picture plane, as the lines, marks and inked surfaces push forward, emphasizing the surface of the image on the page, and becoming as much the subject of the picture as any specifically rural symbolism or narrative. This is particularly true when holding the images themselves, and because these images circulated in books we know that they were meant to be held in the hand and viewed very closely to the eye and body. When you do so, in the case of the folios of original prints you are confronted with the subtle undulating waves of a page that has passed through a printing press. This has the ability to push the marked surface forward as the subject of the picture. Although this haptic quality was diminished in the case of booksof reproductions of artists’ prints, I would argue that it was by no means entirely erased. The hand-crafted nature of the books themselves, the deliberately rough surfaces and paper, as well as the visual impact of the graphic images, all served to constantly remind the viewer of the carved block that created the image, and the hand of the artist in carving that block. In this manner, by drawing the viewer’s attention to the labour of the artist and in doing soalso redirecting us back to the labour of the peasant, relief-printed images like these are able to subtly subvert the primitivist impulse to deny the connection between art and the 110material, physical world, in the process also implicating the tendency to idealize the rural as a serene utopia. Just as in their circulation and marketing on the open market these books denied the social pressures on artists to appear disinterested with their own livelihood, so too do these images’ very materiality and visuality deny the idea that art is somehow not “real work.”  What is troubling is that this seems in some ways to be a complex appropriation of the rural in order to serve the visual desires of an urban modernity. At the same moment that these images valorize the idea of peasant labour and invest it with a weight of cultural significance, they also open the possibility of simultaneously drawing our attention away from the realities of that labour and instead towards the hand of the artist as craftsman. There is a risk that such images could not be merely apolitical, but repressive. 2.5 ConclusionThis chapter has dealt specifically with images that tend to be predominant in books of artists’ prints produced in the late colonial period in Bengal. These are images that embody a primitivizing trope in relation to the importance of the rural in the experience ofBengali modernity. However it would be a disservice to suggest that other types of imagesand books did not also appear in the Bengali art world(s) of this period. As I will argue in the following chapter, a related body of publications also dealt intensely with the issue of 111individualism and its relation to the collective/community, particularly through an exploration of the genres of portraiture and biography. It also worth mentioning that some images from the collection of books of artists’ prints represent urban imagery specifically, sometimes in ways that reinforce the notion of a hostile, impersonal urban space (figure 2.36). These urban images deserve closer individual examination, but this chapter has instead focused on the rural images that predominate. The majority of the art historical literature that deals with late colonial Bengal has tended either to reproduce the trope of primitivism that reinforces an elitism that focuses only on a small number of avant-garde painters, or else it has tended to focus on the spiritual ashram-like environment at the art school at Tagore’s rural university in Santiniketan, where earning a living was thought of as utterly and necessarily separate from the creation and appreciation of art. But by drawing attention to alternative strategiesand artistic practices such as those encapsulated by these books of artists’ prints from the 1920s to the 1940s (and beyond), we gain a greater insight into the role of art in the experience of Indian modernity at this time. This was a period of intense social transformation, when the social role of the modern, urban, professional Bengali print artistwas still only newly available and in a state of flux. I believe that in this environment, books of artists’ prints such as these were an extremely valuable tool for anyone wishing to embody the particular stylistics of existence that such a social role implied. 1123: Print and the Individual3.1 From the Village to the SelfIn the previous chapter, I suggested that in order to successfully negotiate the emerging (and constantly transforming) Bengali art world(s) of the early decades of the twentieth century, it was essential for professional artists to be able to effectively and convincingly deal with the issue of the village and the rural, with its relationship to urban experience and its symbolic importance for and in Bengali identity. By looking closely at certain key examples within the category of “books of artists’ prints,” I pointed out that some of the unique material and historical possibilities that were made manifest in printmaking practices and printed imagery in Bengal during the late colonial period (particularly those related to relief print technologies such as woodcut and linocut) helped to render such books as Haren Das’s Bengal Village in Wood Engraving and Ramendraranath Chakravorty’s Call of the Himalayas as exceptionally powerful tools in the hands of artistswho were attempting to negotiate this complicated relationship between the village and the city. The present chapter examines books of a slightly different nature than those discussed in the previous chapter, although both sets have in common that they were made by one of the handful of professional Bengali printmakers of the early twentieth century. Also like the books discussed in chapter two, the books discussed in this chapter include 113combinations of printed texts and images. But whereas the previous chapter dealt with “books of artists’ prints,” those that are the focus of the current chapter could perhaps better be described as “print artists’ books.” This slight shift in language offers an insight into a different (yet equally complicated) issue that also had to be addressed effectively byanyone attempting to carve out a career as a professional Bengali artist in the early twentieth century. While the books discussed in the previous chapter were heavily connected to issues related to the village and rural India, those that are the focus of this chapter instead address the modern cult of the individual and the ideal of individualism as it relates to Bengali art and modernity. As I will argue, it was yet again the unique capacities and potentialities inherent in printmaking and printed imagery that proved to be valuable tools in the hands of professional Bengali artists in addressing these issues. However, whereas I had argued in the previous chapter that it was relief print technologiesthat uniquely articulated and negotiated issues related the interplay between the village and the city, in this chapter I explore how the historical, material and experiential possibilities that were manifest in the intaglio processes of drypoint were able to particularly resonate with the experience of individualism in late colonial Bengal. 3.2 Discourse of Individualism and Collectivity in South AsiaA persistent theme encountered in much of the existing scholarship on South Asia is the emphasis placed on the concept of collectivity, and the formation of collective identities. 114Whether South Asian identity is conceived of as being traced through the structures of religion, nationality, the village, caste, the extended family, or a combination of such frameworks, the extra-individual forces of religion, family, and community are often conceived of as playing a much greater role in the framing of human subjectivity in South Asia than they are generally perceived of as doing in other parts of the world, particularly when compared to the post-enlightenment West. In anthropological studies of South Asia particularly, but also traceable in the fields of history and art history, there has been a tendency to de-emphasize or erase the agency of the individual in relation to overarching structures of identity and power such as caste, the extended family, or religion. This idea of India’s lack of a sense of individuality and its de-centring of the individual in favour of larger social forces is most commonly associated with the work of anthropologists Louis Dumont and McKim Marriott. Dumont argued that the “basic sociological unit” of the Western individual was entirely lacking in South Asia,123 and Marriott argued that South Asians could best be understood not as “individuals” but as “dividuals,” with a sense of personhood and agency that he characterized as being largely (if not entirely) derived fromsources external to the self.124 Important bodies of feminist, post-modernist, post-structuraland Marxist scholarship have arisen in reaction to these highly structuralist anthropological approaches. But it is worth considering how the earlier scholars increasingly tended to treat bodies as “sites,” where social forces such as class, race, 123 Louis Dumont, Essays on Individualism: Modern Ideology in Anthropological Perspective (Chicago: University of Chicago Press: 1986). See also André Celtel, Categories of the Self: Louis Dumont's Theory ofthe Individual (New York: Berghahn Books, 2005). 124 McKim Marriott, Hindu Transactions: Diversity without Dualism (Chicago: University of Chicago Committee on Southern Asian Studies, 1976). 115gender (and in the case of South Asia, caste) were played out and performed. Taken up and elaborated by the post-structuralist turn, this idea of the constant (re)performance of fluid identity has informed a notion of human beings (perhaps particularly in South Asia) being defined more in terms of intersubjectivity and interconnectivity, than as isolated individuals. In the South Asian context, the inherent (and through discourse, constantly reiterated) intersubjectivity of South Asian identity seems to offer a particularly powerful example of decentred personhood. But as David Arnold and Stuart Blackburn have pointed out, it is incumbent upon contemporary scholars of South Asia to be cognizant of the enduring consequences of the paradigm of collectivity and the ways that it has been and continues to be reinforced in contemporary scholarship, because in many ways this paradigm has “upheld the dominance of caste identities and the hierarchical ideas and practices that accompan[y] it.”125 It is true that the emphasis on collectivity is no longer as pronounced in South Asian scholarship as it used to be, but the theories of both Dumont and Marriott continue to find their way into historical, art historical and anthropological studies of South Asia even well into the twenty-first century. The scholarship of Christopher Pinney is an excellent example of the continued influence of the de-centred personhood model in South Asian-focussed scholarship. In his many valuable studies of Indian photography andphotographic practices126 Pinney has drawn on the work of both Dumont and Marriott, 125 David Arnold and Stuart Blackburn eds., Telling Lives in India: Biography, Autobiography and Life History, eds. David Arnold and Stuart Blackburn (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004), 3.126 In addition to numerous articles and chapters in edited volumes, Pinney’s monographs on photography inIndia include: Camera Indica: the Social Life of Indian Photographs (Chicago: University of Chicago Press,116arguing for example that various traditions of South Asian photographic portraiture in which identity appears to be performed in a split or duplicated manner can be best understood against the backdrop of a general notion of decentred South Asian personhood.127 Historian and anthropologist Nicholas Dirks has persuasively argued that the late colonial period was precisely the historical moment when systems of Orientalist ethnography were arguing—and colonial systems of administration were working to encourage—the belief that collective identities were dominant in India: that India was somehow devoid of individuals and individual agency, and was instead constituted as a conglomeration of castes and religious communities that the colonial administration could effectively enumerate, measure, negotiate with, and control.128 Thus, it was precisely during the late colonial period, and specifically within colonialist frames of reference and systems of knowledge, that the notion of India's somehow flawed or incomplete sense of individualism was discursively tied to its stigma of flawed or incomplete modernity. Insofar as the fully articulated individualism of the West was supposed to have evolved through enlightenment humanism and capitalist enterprise, an emphasis on the individual became one of the hallmarks by which India could be measured and assigned a particular position along an evolutionary, developmental scale. As a consequence, the experience of being both modern and Indian in the late colonial period implicated a very specific (but 1997); and The Coming of Photography in India (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2008).  127 Christopher Pinney, “Photographic Portraiture in Central India in the 1980s and 1990s,” in Portraiture: Facing the Subject, ed. Joanne Woodall (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997), 135.128 Nicholas Dirks, Castes of Mind, 13. 117not altogether globally uncommon) sense of anxiety. On the one hand, being modern in India demanded an appreciation and a cultivation of the unique self, while on the other hand it also presented a very real anxiety that one's personhood could somehow be “less discrete, less bounded and more permeable” than it was or could be experienced in the West.129 This could produce an anxiety that one’s own personhood might somehow be intrinsically incommensurate with the project and experience of modernity itself.It is important for those of us who study the late colonial period in South Asia to pay closeattention to issues of collectivity and its relationship to the individual, because one of the characteristics most commonly associated with the emergence of a self-consciously modern identity was an intensified belief in (and glorification of) the autonomous individual: one who was supposedly freed (or freer) from various external social and religious pressures, and self-governed by a rational and moral authority. Valuable bodies of post-modern and post-colonial scholarship have done much in recent decades to complicate and trouble such a positivist notion of the autonomous, independent, modern individual – both within Western and non-Western history. But we should acknowledge that during the late colonial period in South Asia, it was exactly this kind of a model of theemancipated, modern individual that gained significant cultural capital, particularly in centres of colonial administration such as Calcutta where Western social practices and standards of individualism were much more commonly encountered and more intensely 129 David Arnold and Stuart Blackburn, eds. Telling Lives in India: Biography, Autobiography and Life History (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2007), 2.118felt than they were in more rural and semi-rural areas. Indeed, when attempting to articulate the degree to which the pressure to be modern and the pressure to adopt westernized attitudes and behaviours tended to coalesce in late-colonial South Asia, Dipesh Chakrabarty draws specifically on a Bengali, Calcutta-based example: the poet andintellectual Michael Madhusudan Dutt (1824-1873). One of the great nineteenth century poets and dramatists in the Bengali language, Dutt self-consciously emulated English society in his early career, even adopting a westernized name when he converted to Christianity. Even his eventual project to embrace Bengali language and culture may be insome ways connected to Dutt’s early exposure to emergent European ideas of nationalism and national identity. For Chakrabarty, all of this means that Dutt perfectly represents the fact that, by the late nineteenth century for many Bengalis, especially those in Calcutta, “to be a ‘modern individual’ meant to become a ‘European’.”130 The work of professional Bengali print artists demonstrates that the performance of individuality and the pressure to appear and perform as an individual were strongly felt by professional artists who aspired to make a career for themselves in the Bengali art world. This is because western ideals of modern art were introduced to South Asia already embedded with the accompanying glorification of the figure of the artist as an individual genius (which was central to the practices and theories of art history as they had developedin European art from the Renaissance onwards). The concept of the artist as unique and 130 Dipesh Chakrabarty, “Postcoloniality and the Artifice of History: who Speaks for ‘Indian’ Pasts?” Representations, no. 37 (1992): 7.  119individual genius has been (at least in the academic world, if not in the realm of popular art history) largely deconstructed through recent decades of valuable social art history that has worked to embed artists in their particular historical circumstances: as positioned and able to act/perform in certain ways because of larger social constructs related to gender, race, and class. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that, to a greater degree than those engaged in other forms of livelihood, the modern Bengali artist of the early twentieth century was perhaps more inclined to find ways to announce and promote their investment in individualistic traits such as self-consciousness, moral autonomy, self-reliance, and so on, because of the degree to which these characteristics had been valued in western art history, and because of the degree to which western art history was influential amongst those who attempted to be professional, respectable, Bengali artists at this time. 3.3 Individual Genres: Biography and Portraiture The literary genres of biography and autobiography have long been associated with the growth of modern individualism in the West. In their emphasis on the production and (re)presentation of unique individuals, biography and autobiography have often been read as markers of the emergence of a particularly modern (and Western) form of historical consciousness.131 In recent decades many historians of the non-West have done valuable 131 Philip Holden, Autobiography and Decolonization: Modernity, Masculinity and the Nation State (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2008), 17.120work to complicate this view, by tracing unique and particular historic and cultural conventions in non-Western traditions of life writing, which persuasively argue against any uniquely Western (or modern) prerogative in the field of biographical production.132 Inthe South Asian context in particular, traditions of self-reflexive writing have been shown to be both ancient and varied. Some tradition of Indian biography can be traced at least to the seventh century, to the Harshacharita written by Banabhatta at the court of Kanauj. His account of “a moral life-story” is said to have influenced Gandhi in the writing of his own “experiments with truth.”133 Moreover, a rich tradition of biographical and autobiographical writing can quite clearly be traced through the medieval and Mughal periods, often heavily influenced by Persian traditions of life-writing.134 But despite these examples, the modern literary genres of biography and autobiography (along with the genres of history and the novel) are still often considered to have only really emerged in South Asia during the modern period, as a part of the larger transformation of “public and private rituals of modern individualism [that] became visible in India in the nineteenth century.”135 Thus, the earlier, pre-colonial bodies of autobiographical writings can be acknowledged as both intensely personal and experiential, but are deemed different from biographical texts in the modern (western) sense, in that they are not entirely revelations 132 See, for example, W. Callewaert and R. Snell, eds., According to Tradition: Hagiographical Writing in India (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1994); or M. Kramer, ed., Middle Eastern Lives: The Practice of Biography and Self-Narrative (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1991).133 David Arnold and Stuart Blackburn, introduction to Telling Lives in India: Biography, Autobiography and Life History (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004), 13-14134 Vijaya Ramaswamy, introduction to Biography as History: Indian Perspectives (New Delhi: Orient Blackswan, 2009), 3.  135 Chakrabarty, “Postcoloniality and the Artifice of History,” 8. 121of private, interior qualities through the narrativization an individual self.136 This dismissalof other types of biographical writing serves to reinforce the idea that the “authentically” modern (like “true” biography) is only that which emerged first in the West. Setting aside for the present purposes the complexities of contemporary scholarship on biographical writing, we may nevertheless acknowledge that during the late colonial period in Bengal, the literary forms of biography and autobiography very actively participated in the kind of anxiety of authenticity in Indian modernity that I have describedearlier. On the one hand, there was a veritable explosion of writings in the first-person singular documenting individual lives in Bengal from the nineteenth century onwards, as the new, westernized concept of the individual was taking hold especially amongst the bhadralok elite.137 Yet at the same time, throughout India, there was also a very real concern about whether such texts that focused on a single individual were appropriate for South Asian subjects, who were often understood as essentially permeable and inter-social. This paradox was articulated by Gandhi in his autobiography My Experiments withTruth. In his introduction, Gandhi recounts that a close friend had tried to discourage him from writing such an autobiography on the grounds that such writings were “a practice 136 See, for example, A.R. Venkatachalapathy, “Making a Modern Self in Colonial Tamil Nadu,” in Biography as History: Indian Perspectives, eds. Vijaya Ramaswamy and Yogesh Sharma (New Delhi: Orient Blackswan, 2009), 32. 137 For a detailed study of the emergence and evolution of biographical forms in Bengal, see for example, Ipshita Chanda, Tracing the Carit as a Genre (Kolkata: Jadavpur University, 2003) or Debipada Bhattacharya, Bangla Charit Sahitya (Calcutta: Dey’s, 1982). 122peculiar to the West. I know of nobody in the East having written one, except amongst those who have come under Western influence.”138 In what follows, I will consider the entry of visual artists into this contested field of biographical production during the early decades of the twentieth century in Bengal. By looking particularly at key examples of autobiographies written by one particular professional Bengali printmaking artist at this time, I shall demonstrate how artists in this social position could use the tools of biographical production to stake out and negotiate certain identities for themselves as modern, Indian artists. Different opportunities and riskswere involved for artists who elected to write autobiographical texts in this period, and biographical writing provided a means by which to introduce a new kind of social entity––the modern, professional artist––to its public. Literature and the written word have played a central role in Bengali cultural identity, both in the late colonial period and now. Therefore I am also concerned with how visual artists in Bengal have been particularly compelled to participate in the textual world in order to claim a role for themselves in Bengali public life. This chapter also seeks to address the means by which modern artists could seek material success by connecting themselves to new forms of urban patronage through an autobiographical medium, and how such texts can therefore be read as reminders of the inherent tensions between the ideal of an independent, artistic, modern self and anxieties over collectivity and dependence (vis-à-vis patronage and audience). By 138 Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, An Autobiography, or The Story of My Experiments with Truth (New Delhi: Crossland Books, 2009 reprint), xi.123pursuing the semantic shift from “books of artists’ prints” to “print artists’ books” in orderto particularly identify and explore several autobiographical accounts that were written by professional Bengali print artists of the early twentieth century, I explicate the ways that different tools of social and artistic praxis were uniquely exploited by professional Bengaliprint artists at this time. In the second part of this chapter, I will return to the category of “books of artists’ prints” in order to explore the interactions between the professional Bengali print artist and the genre of portraiture: a visual rather than predominantly textual genre that also participated deeply in the negotiation and performance of individualism in modern South Asia.139 While the previous chapter explored books of artists’ prints that tended to combine relief-print images of rural and village scenes with minimal texts, towards the end of this chapterI will introduce and discuss another, smaller sub-group within this category of books, which instead presented collections of portraits of famous individuals usually done in the intaglio process of drypoint, accompanied by biographical texts that were often quite lengthy. By expanding our understanding of the variations to be found within such an archival set, I disprove the notion that books of artists’ prints were in any way a monolithic category. What is particularly interesting in relation to both the “books of artists’ prints” that deal with issues of individualism through the genre of portraiture, and the “print artists’ books” that explore issues related to individualism through 139 The parallels between portraiture and biography, along with each genre’s investiture in individualism, are in many ways self-evident, and indeed have often been remarked upon. See, for example, Peter Burke, “The Renaissance, Individualism and the Portrait,” History of European Ideas, vol. 21, no. 3 (1995): 394. 124autobiographical writing, is that both of these categories appear to coalesce around the figure of one particular (one might even say, one profoundly individualistic) artist: Mukul Chandra Dey (1895-1989). 3.4 The Artist as Individual: Mukul Chandra DeyThough often overlooked or marginalized in the existing scholarly literature,140 Mukul Chandra Dey offers a unique opportunity to explore issues related to the performance of modern individualism in the twentieth century Bengali art world. First and most obviously, the trajectory of Dey's own biography intersects and engages with the rich cultural history of late colonial Bengal. Dey was born in 1895 to a relatively privileged butnot excessively wealthy zamindar141 family that held land in the small village of Akiyadhal, near Bikrampur, in the Dhaka district of East Bengal (now Bangladesh). Dey’sgrandfather had been a lawyer and his father a police inspector (and aspiring poet). In his childhood, some of the peasant children from his village teased Mukul Dey for being a privileged “landlord’s son,” as evidenced by the many boats that his family owned and rented out.142 But later in life Dey had trouble shaking off the reputation of being an East 140 In the current academic literature, Mukul Dey tends to garner occasional and marginal reference. In the two major texts by Tapati Guha-Thakurta and Partha Mitter that deal with the nationalist narrative of art of the first decades of the twentieth century in India, Mukul Dey is mentioned roughly a half-dozen times and one of his works is illustrated. Guha-Thakurta, The Making of a New ‘Indian’ Art, 200 and 301; and Mitter, Art and Nationalism in Colonial India, 117 and 305.141 The term zamindar derives from the Persian term zamin, meaning ‘land,’ and dar which denotes possession, and it arose first during the Mughal period to refer to the hereditary landholder class in Bengal but its meaning expanded and became more relevant during the British colonial period when the zamindar class became critical to the workings of politics, economics, and culture. Banglapedia: The National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh, s.v., “Zamindar.” 142 Mukul Dey, Amar Katha (Santiniketan: Visva Bharati, 1995), 3. 125Bengali, “rough fellow.” When he settled in the colonial metropolis of Calcutta in West Bengal, Dey’s East Bengali accent and his perceived lack of urban refinements were often a liability. Especially amongst the elite realms of Bengali society, these traits earned Dey the reputation of being not quite respectably bhadralok.143In 1907 Mukul Dey’s father sent him to Santiniketan in rural West Bengal, to study at Rabindranath Tagore’s experimental educational project when it was still in its earliest, ashram-like period, before it became Visva-Bharati University. During his studies there, Dey demonstrated a talent for drawing and painting that the ashram at Santiniketan was not yet in a position to adequately accommodate, as this was long before the founding of the Kala Bhavan art school that today forms an important department within Visva-Bharati. Dey was therefore encouraged to send some of his works by post to Calcutta, to be reviewed and critiqued by Rabindranath’s nephew, the famous artist and leader of the Bengal School of painting, Abanindranath Tagore. After five years of living in Santiniketan as a student, Dey went to live and work in Calcutta in 1912. There he continued his artistic education under Abanindranath directly, often staying at the Tagore family home in Jorasanko, a northern neighbourhood of Calcutta that is intrinsically associated with the Tagore family. In Calcutta, Dey became associated with both the Indian Society of Oriental Art and the Bengal School, at a time when both were intensely 143 To some extent this accusation continues to haunt Dey’s reputation. During the course of my research in Bengal, several sources expressed surprise at my being interested in such a “rough, coarse man,” who was disparagingly described to me on more than one occasion as being “not properly bhadralok.” 126involved in the nationalist debates over what constituted the “correct” mode of modern Indian expression in the visual arts, as described in the introductory chapter. In 1916 and 1917, Dey accompanied Rabindranath Tagore on a tour of Japan and America, undertaken when Tagore was enjoying a particularly intense wave of international celebrity after being awarded the Nobel Prize for literature.144 On this journey, Dey was either Tagore’s protégé or his assistant, depending on one’s historical perspective and one’s opinion of Dey. Dey later described his duties on this journey as consisting of observing all that happened around him and telling Rabindranath about it in the evenings. He was also responsible for cleaning and filling Tagore’s many fountain pens, and making fresh fruit juice for him every morning.145 Dey also described a clever method by which he was able to take advantage of his particular social position on this journey in order to earn some extra income:  Whenever we had meetings or gatherings on this trip to Japan and America, I used to earn a great deal of money. It was a very easy method of gaining income. Many people used to want Gurudev’s autographed books to keep as a souvenir. Some people also wanted him to write one ortwo lines for them. But it wasn’t possible for all these people to gain direct access to Gurudev. They used to persistently ask me for help. In Gurudev’s leisure time, I used to get him to sign and write poems according to people’s requests. When these people received these things they were extremely happy. In their happiness they used to give me money.146 144 Tagore was the first Nobel Prize recipient from Asia, winning for poetry in 1913.145 Dey, Amar Katha, 49. 146 Ibid, 56-57. 127After travelling in passenger cabins on a cargo ship from Calcutta to Japan, Dey and Tagore eventually sailed on to North America via Hawaii on a passenger ship. They alighted briefly in Vancouver before quickly travelling on to Seattle, California, Chicago, and eventually New York.147 Prior to this journey, Dey had already tried his hand at etching in India, under the instruction and encouragement of William Winstanley Pearson (1881-1923).148 While in America, Dey received critical instruction and encouragement in printmaking techniques and media from James Blanding Sloan (1886-1975). Dey also made the acquaintance of Bertha E. Jaques (1863-1941), founder of the Chicago Society of Etchers; during his stay in Chicago, Dey exhibited with the society and was made a lifetime member of the organization.149 When he returned to India in 1917, Dey brought with him an etching press that he had acquired in America, which remained a valuable tool of his artistic practice throughout his career. Today the press remains in Dey’s family home (and now archive) in Santiniketan. Mukul Dey’s father died on July 1, 1917, very soon after he and Rabindranath Tagore returned to India from this trip abroad.150 As the eldest son of the family, a great deal of family responsibility fell to the not-yet-22-year-old Mukul. The weight of these family 147 Of his brief time in Canada, Dey noted that the people here were, as in India, ruled by the British. Of Vancouverites, Dey remarked that “in their gestures and behaviour they are extremely sluggish and slow. They eat a lot of beef, drink a lot of alcohol, gamble and they’re all musical.” Ibid, 63. 148 Pearson was a friend and associate of Tagore and a mentor to Dey. He was the author of Santiniketan: theBolpur School of Rabindranath Tagore (New York: Macmillan: 1916), for which Dey drew the illustrations.149 Edna Ida Colley, “Chicago Society of Etchers’ Exhibition 1918,” Fine Arts Journal vol. 36., no. 4 (1918):10-16. 150 Dey recounted in his later memoirs that he received offers of sponsorship or scholarship that would have allowed him to remain longer in America or Japan, but that Rabindranath insisted that he return with him to India, saying “I took him from his father and I will return him to his father.” Because of this insistence, Dey was able to see his father before he died and to perform the final funeral rites. Dey, Amar Katha, 60.  128obligations must have been daunting, but he soon received an invitation to stay at the Tagore family home in Jorasanko while teaching art and painting to the some of the youngchildren of the household, for which he was offered a monthly salary of 60 rupees.151 Sucha position must have offered an appealingly stable income for the young, aspiring artist, and indeed he worked for several months in the Tagore household. But in the end, this arrangement fell apart when Dey’s sense of his own status was found to be not in agreement with the treatment that he received from one of his young charges. It seems thatone day Abanindranath Tagore’s son called out to Dey in an impolite manner, addressing him as one would address a low-class servant or a manual worker. Dey took offence and slapped the boy across the face for his rudeness, and left Jorasanko immediately. Both Dey and others later recounted this event, which appears to have caused some minor scandal at the time. Different accounts either blame Dey for not showing proper gratitude to the Tagores and having ideas above his station, or else applaud him for taking a stand against the rudeness of a privileged, spoiled boy. Following this episode, as soon as Dey was able to make arrangements to relocate his mother and his younger siblings to their village home, he then used some money that he had earned through the sale of paintings to set out travelling across India. This period included his first visit to the Ajanta caves (about which more will be said later). During this period from roughly 1918 to 1920, Mukul Dey was a young, struggling artist attempting to scratch out a livelihood by selling portraits and other works of art at very 151 Ibid, 71.  129low prices. But after a few years of this rather nomadic existence in India, Dey eventually sailed for England in 1920, where he settled for the most part in London. There he studied first at the Slade School under Henry Tonks (1862-1937), and later at the Royal College ofArt under the printmaker Frank Short (1957-1945). Dey also studied privately with Muirhead Bone (1876-1953), through the recommendation of W.W. Pearson. Dey later described his introduction to the system of arts education in England as follows:When I first went to join the Slade School in London, I had the book Twelve Portraits with me. Professor Henry Tonks, having turned a few pages, said to me with a solemn face: “I do not know why you have come to our country to learn our bad art, which we are almost going to discard. You are from India, the country I know is carrying the tradition of spiritual art over a thousand years. What can you learn from our school of Art? You better go to your own country and try to find out the golden treasure of art hidden there.” I then said to the professor, with much hesitation, “Sir, I want to learn the techniques of oil painting, etching, etc.” Then the professor said, witha sweet and light smile, “Alright, you go to the life class.” From then I started my life class. About fifty people, boys and girls were in this classroom. Everyone was surprised, wondering from where had come this one blackie before them? Many children from important families, even after trying for five or ten years don’t receive entry, and here was one Indian young man, how did he get permission? Thus began my Slade School life.152 Dey spent seven years in England, primarily studying but also towards the end lecturing and exhibiting his work. In general, he worked very hard at assembling a set of skills and connections that would serve him well later in his professional career. Dey sent his works, unsolicited, to the Royal Palaces, and forever kept the official letter of acknowledgement 152 Dey, Amar Katha,, 100. 130and polite thanks that was sent to him in response. He carried with him all possible letters of introduction and recommendation. He collected every news reference and article relatedto him and his work, and persistently assembled a resume of accomplishments to prepare him for a successful return to India. The opportunity for such a return arose in the form of an advertisement for the prestigious position of Principal of the Government School of Artin Calcutta. After a rather lengthy application procedure, Dey received the appointment and took up the job in July 1928, making him the first non-European to hold the position. Dey’s appointment was something of a surprise to those in the Bengali art world at the time, as many people had assumed that the job would be offered to Jamini Prakash Ganguly (1876-1953). Ganguly was a talented, if somewhat old-fashioned, artist of the academic naturalist school who, in addition to being related to the Tagore family, had at that point already been serving as the school’s acting Principal for several months, following the departure of the previous Principal, Percy Brown. However, despite these societal expectations that the post would go to someone from the hereditarily aristocratic realm of Bengali society, instead it seems that at this particular moment, the colonial administration that was in charge of the hiring process for the position of Principal of the Government Art School was inclined not to favour the Tagore family. Instead, a window of opportunity may have opened for the (at that time) less-elite, professional artist Mukul Dey to plant a foothold higher up in the social hierarchy of the Bengali art world. At this moment, Mukul Dey was in a position to be able to swing the appointment of the position in his favour, but the process of application was not easy and required several stages of 131documentation and re-application. This was in sharp contrast to the way in which Abanindranath Tagore had been appointed as Vice-Principal of the school in 1905, when the decision was made very quickly and entirely at the local level by Principal E.B. Havell. Indeed, Tagore only had to submit a perfunctory letter by way of application.153 Tension between Mukul Dey and Jamini Ganguly was pronounced following Dey’s appointment as Principal of the Government School of Art. Dey even credited Ganguly with stirring up a student strike against his leadership, in an attempt to make his position as principal untenable. But ultimately Ganguly elected to take a leave of absence from the school, and not long afterwards he tendered his resignation. In the end, Mukul Dey held this post as principal (sometimes tenuously) for fifteen years. During this lengthy tenure, Dey influenced virtually an entire generation of young, professionally-trained Bengali artists—both through his implementation of various institutional initiatives, and by virtue of the fact that his own career trajectory provided students with an instructive model for them to follow, or to rebel against. Eventually, the changing politics of the Government Art School resulted in his being removed as Principal in 1943, after which he suffered a near-total physical and mental collapse. Thereafter, Dey often struggled to earn a regular and sufficient living as an artist that would allow him to support himself and his family. 153 Tagore’s hand-written letter of application acknowledged that he had no university education that would qualify him for the post, but noted that “the fact of my being the great-grandson of the late Dwarka Nath Tagore will, I trust, be sufficient to indicate my general respectability and position in society.” J.C. Bagal, “History,” 30. In contrast, at the Mukul Dey Archive in Santiniketan there exists an exciting yet still partial archive of the voluminous materials that Dey assembled for his application to the Principal position in 1927, including many letters of recommendation from notable persons, as well as examples of his own artwork. Further research into what documentation exists within the colonial archive related to the 1905 and 1927 appointments awaits a future opportunity to access materials in London. 132Mukul Dey undertook a few additional international travels later in life, including a trip to America in 1953 and 1954 as a Fulbright Scholar, and a trip to England for an exhibition of his work at the Commonwealth Institute in London in 1960. But for most of the remainder of his life Dey lived quietly at the home he had built in Santiniketan, not far from Visva Bharati University. He died there in 1989. Although he produced a large body of painting and drawing work and was also a talented amateur photographer, today Mukul Dey is remembered primarily as a printmaker. He was unusual for being one of those few Bengali artists of the period to truly specialize in printmaking media, and in his case the choice of medium was even more unusual and unique: one could say, even more individual. Mukul Dey specialized in and championed the intaglio process of drypoint engraving. Dey pioneered this process in India and he can still be credited as the one of the only South Asian artists to ever so entirely devote himself to that particular medium. 3.5 Mukul Dey and Autobiography Mukul Dey offers a particularly useful case study for the exploration of issues related to modern artistic individualism in Bengal, not only because of his own fascinating biographical trajectory and the ways it intersects with the rich social and cultural history of late colonial Bengal, but also because he was the most prolific of the small number of 133Bengali artists who wrote autobiographical accounts during this period. Texts of this type by members of the Tagore family are today perhaps the most widely known. For example, Rabindranath Tagore’s memoir My Reminiscences was first published, to great acclaim, in1917. Abanindranath Tagore’s Apon Katha (My Story) first appeared as a series articles in the Bengali journals Bangabani and Chitra between 1927 and 1938; they were later collected and published as a book in English translation in 1946. Abanindranath also wrote autobiographical texts titled Gharoa (Homely Tales) and Jorasankar Dhare (By the Side of Jorasanko), which were narrated by Abanindranath and transcribed, edited and organized by Rani Chanda (née Rani Dey, the younger sister of Mukul Dey) into their final forms as published books. These were then published in 1941 and 1944, respectively.Given their fame, the Tagores would have enjoyed an already established audience for autobiographical accounts of their remarkable (and for most people, utterly inaccessible) lives. But there were also a few cases of other, somewhat lesser well-known Bengali artists, such as Sudhir Khastgir and Chittaprosad, who also had occasion to write texts of an autobiographical nature during this period. Sudhir Khastgir’s Myself, for example, is a fairly straightforward biographical account written and illustrated by the artist with reproductions of many of his artworks from a variety of media.154 Chittaprosad’s Hungry Bengal, on the other hand, while it does contain many of elements of personal narrative, in154 Sudhir Khastgir, Myself (Calcutta: Prabasi Press, 1955).  134other ways transcends the category of biography or autobiography for reasons that will be more fully explained and developed in the following chapter.155 Amongst these few examples of Bengali artists writing autobiographies during this period,Mukul Dey stands out from amongst his contemporaries because he wrote at least three major texts that can be called autobiographical, as well as numerous smaller autobiographical articles, catalogue texts, press releases, letters and so on. His three major autobiographical texts are: (1) his book My Pilgrimages to Ajanta and Bagh (figure 3.1), first published in London by Thornton Butterworth Publishers in 1925 and later republished in New York by Doran Publishers in 1950; (2) his self-published booklet My Reminiscences, printed in 1938 (figures 3.2 and 3.3); and (3) the Bengali language memoirAmar Katha (figure 3.4) which Dey dictated in a series of recorded conversations in the late 1980s, and which was later compiled, edited and published posthumously in 1995. Largely textual rather than visual in nature, these books do not easily fit within the criteria set out in the previous chapter that defined the category of “books of artists’ prints.” But written as they are by the pioneer etcher-engraver in India, and containing in each instanceseveral examples of black and white reproductions of photographs, drawings, and prints, these books most certainly do qualify as “print artists’ books.” In the following sections I will discuss the first of these texts, My Pilgrimages, in detail. I will then deal more 155 Chittaprosad, Hungry Bengal – A Tour Through Midnapur District, November 1943 (Bombay: People’s Publishing House, 1944).  135generally with the other two texts, and I include lengthy selections of the last, Amar Katha, translated from Bengali into English as Appendix A to this thesis. 3.5.1 My Pilgrimages to Ajanta and BaghThe text of the book My Pilgrimages to Ajanta and Bagh (hereinafter referred to as My Pilgrimages) recounts two journeys that Dey undertook to the famous Buddhist cave complex at Ajanta, and the somewhat lesser known caves at Bagh, both in Western India. Both trips took place during the brief period after he had returned to India from the journey he took with Rabindranath to Japan and America in 1916 and 1917, and before he left India in 1920 in order to study art in London. These visits to Ajanta and Bagh were a part of Dey’s wide-ranging journeys throughout South Asia during these intervening yearswhen he was struggling to carve out a living for himself as an artist following the death of his father. Dey’s first visit to the Ajanta caves was a relatively brief one in 1918, but he later returned in 1919 and then stayed at the caves for nine months, studying the caves andtheir decoration, and painting a complete set of copies of the Ajanta murals on paper. After completing this task, he moved on to stay briefly at the Bagh caves where he undertook similar work.  Since their re-discovery by Europeans in the early nineteenth century, the wall paintings that cover the interior surfaces of the Ajanta caves had done much to bolster India's claimsto an indigenous painting tradition. Previously, much of the colonialist art history about 136South Asia had suggested that India had traditionally only known the plastic arts of sculpture and architecture, and that the art of painting had been unknown and unpractised in South Asia before the Mughal period. But the (re)discovery of Ajanta (and to a lesser extent Bagh), with their exuberant and fully developed mural painting tradition, had turned that theory on its head. In the nationalist rhetoric that coloured much art discourse in the late colonial period in India, Ajanta was recruited into the role of representing a lost golden age of Indian art and society, on par with the classical past of Greece and Rome in the European tradition. By the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, many of the government-established schools of art across South Asia (including the Government School of Art in Calcutta) undertook the production of large projects that documented and categorized the antiquities of the newly-acquired colonial holdings; Ajanta figured prominently as the subject of elaborate and expensive volumes of drawings and copies of the murals (such as Lady Herringham’s volume, Ajanta Frescoes, mentioned in the previous chapter). For working artists such as Dey was during this period, before he secured his valuable education and connections abroad, Ajanta represented a site of pilgrimage much in the same way that Badrinath functioned as a site of pilgrimage for Ramendranath Chakravorty in his book Call of the Himalayas (discussed in chapter two). But in the case of Ajanta, pilgrimage to the site was also overlaid with resonances of an Indian version of the European Grand Tour. By the early twentieth century, a pilgrimage to Ajanta had become de rigueur for those attempting to stake their claim to a persona anda livelihood as a professional artist.156 156  Mitter, The Triumph of Modernism, 187. 137The narrative of My Pilgrimages weaves fluidly through and across the genres of travelogue, personal autobiography and historical text. Suggestions for accommodation and information about the cost of hiring local transportation are offered alongside historical sketches of the life of the Buddha and the monastic community who first built and lived in the Ajanta caves in the early centuries of the Common Era. Crucially, everywhere throughout the text are woven stories of Dey's own personal experiences in travelling to and living at the caves, where he undertook a several-months-long project of producing painted copies on paper of the ancient murals. Throughout the text Dey recounts his “adventures pleasant and otherwise,”157 including spirited accounts of his travel across India by train (including an amusing anecdote of the sartorial barriers to travelling in a first class carriage: only those Indians in western attire were allowed), his encounters with wild animals, and the death of his servant from cholera. Dey weaves together the personal and the historic in many ways throughout this text. Chapter nine, for example, begins with a description of a certain set of caves, including standardized information on their chronologies, measurements, features and decorations. The narrative then suddenly breaks away from this inventory to describe some monkeys and the trouble they caused Dey one day while he was trying to do his work in the caves. As the anecdote unfolds, Dey chases the monkeys into the jungle where he discovers a set of enormous, carved stone elephants. Dey realizes that the sculptures are those referred to 157 Mukul Dey, My Pilgrimages, 156.138by sixth century Chinese pilgrims, thus bringing his personal anecdotal detour back full circle to the history of Ajanta, its connections to ancient routes of pilgrimage, and the history of Buddhism in Asia.158 This is simply one example of a pattern that recurs throughout My Pilgrimages; everywhere in this text Dey's own personal narrative is inexorably bound up with and within his recounting of the story of Ajanta itself. Partha Chatterjee has noted that in many other Indian autobiographies written in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, there was a tendency to veer away from the exploration of the individual personality and psychology of the subject in favour of insteadconnecting an individual life to larger political and historical phenomena. In the Bengali context in particular, Chatterjee notes that this trend often manifested as a tendency for early Bengali autobiographers to graft their own story onto the story of the burgeoning nationalist movement. This leads him to suggest that during the late colonial period the figure of the new, modern individual could in some ways only be understood “by inscribing it in the narrative of the nation.”159 In a similar manner, I believe that someone like Mukul Dey, who was then still a relative unknown in the Bengali art world and whosesocial role and status did not seem to immediately demand or warrant its own biographicalaccount, was able to present his own personal narrative at this time only by presenting it alongside and in relation to a national symbol of great cultural significance, such as the Ajanta caves. Thus, the nationalist narrative made possible with an account of the Ajanta 158 Ibid, 140-142. 159 Chatterjee, The Nation and its Fragments, 138.139caves may have provided the opportunity for a relatively unknown artist to assert his credentials and experience. What is particularly significant however, and what distinguishes Dey's autobiography from the examples discussed by Chatterjee, is the choice of a nationalistic model drawn particularly from the field of visual culture or art history on which Dey has elected to graft his own personal narrative. As a visual artist, Dey was compelled to participate in and to identify with national symbols of visual art andculture like Ajanta. These were the tools at hand that that could be effectively used by visual artists like Dey as vehicles through which to negotiate and present their artistic identities to the public. Moreover, insofar as My Pilgrimages displays the tendency to veer away from an intense exploration of its author's inner psychology or personality, it also has this trait in common with the large body of artists' lifewritings that emerged during the late nineteenth and earlytwentieth centuries in England. Julie Codell has argued that artists' lifewritings in Britain differed significantly from the usual Victorian models in that, rather than being prone to introspection and spiritual revelation, artists' autobiographies tended instead to function as extensions of their art practice, and were designed to attract readers (and by extension, potential buyers and patrons) through a more casual conversational or anecdotal attitude and approach.160 Autobiography was, by this time in England, a well-established means bywhich artists managed to present and promote themselves as respectable working artists. 160 Julie Codell, The Victorian Artist: Artists’ Lifewritings in Britain, ca. 1870–1910 (Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press, 2003), 117. 140In this context it is important to remember that Mukul Dey wrote and published My Pilgrimages during the seven-year period that he spent living and working in England. Indeed, a great deal of the text of My Pilgrimages was clearly intended for a European audience. Thus it seems likely that the lack of introspection that marks many other early Bengali autobiographies may be connected, in this case at least, less to nationalist notions of the self, and more to a desire for struggling, professional artists to promote themselves as productive, respectable, and fully socialized members of society.  The illustrations in My Pilgrimages also serve to distinguish this text from any other colonial-period Bengali autobiographies that have thus far been discussed or analyzed in the related literature. The images in the book are remarkable both for their variety and their sheer volume. They include numerous photographs (figure 3.5), line drawings (figure3.6), and reproductions of many of the painted copies of the frescoes that Dey made during his time at the caves (figure 3.7). Altogether there are nearly one hundred images, making My Pilgrimages the most extensively illustrated early Bengali autobiography to my knowledge. Moreover, it would appear from some correspondence that survives between Dey and his original London publisher that Dey wanted to include even more illustrations in the book. In a letter dated 29 January 1925, a representative of Thornton Butterworth Publishers wrote to Dey explaining that they had not planned or budgeted for the large number of illustrations that Dey had provided, and asking him to come to their offices at his earliest convenience in order to make a reduced selection.161 Such a strong 161 Letter from Thornton Butterworth to Mukul Dey, 29 January 1925. Courtesy of Mukul Dey Archives. 141visual presence in the text obviously speaks to Dey's training and background as a visual artist. His tendency to contemplate the world visually is also obvious from his liberal use of descriptive language throughout the text, and his tendency to linger over visual descriptions of the cave paintings and the wilderness surroundings. It seems only reasonable to surmise that visual artists like Dey, who elected to enter into the textual, biographical world, would do so in a manner that emphasized the role of the visual in public life through both numerous illustrations and rich visual descriptions. However, the images in My Pilgrimages also relate and contribute to Mukul Dey’s ability to fashion himself as a modern Indian artist in another, very concrete, material sense. Before they became illustrations for this book, Dey’s studies of the Ajanta cave murals first circulated as independent commodities. Many of the copies of the Ajanta and Bagh murals which Dey produced during his time at the caves (and which are reproduced in MyPilgrimages) were sold to a Mr. Kallianjee Curumsey in Bombay just before Dey sailed for England in 1920. It was in fact the sale of this collection of paintings (and their shift from a non-commodity to a commodity state) that provided Dey with the financial wherewithal to be able to undertake his journey to Europe, where he was in turn able to obtain the additional training, credentials and connections, and where he was able to assemble a suitably impressive résumé, that were all critical to Mukul Dey being able to successfully market himself as an artist both in England and upon his return to India. These images therefore not only reflected an already-established artistic sensibility, they 142also actively contributed to the establishment of a viable identity as a successful, professional Indian artist.  3.5.2 My Reminiscences and Amar KathaThe parameters of this chapter preclude a detailed analysis of the two other major autobiographical texts written by Mukul Dey.162 Briefly however, these are his My Reminiscences (figures 3.2 and 3.3), composed in English and self-published in 1938 while Dey was serving as principal of the Government Art School in Calcutta, and his Amar Katha (figure 3.4), dictated as a series of conversations in Bengali and published posthumously in 1995. My Reminiscences recounts Dey's childhood and early education, includes a lengthy description of his international travels and successes, and also provides some information about his work as an artist and principal after his return to India. SudiptaKaviraj has argued that some early Bengali autobiographies were written to present readers with the possibility of a new kind of life. He argues that in times of great social change, such as late-colonial South Asia, people were compelled to write their own storiesnot because they were exemplary, but because they in some way represented a remarkablynew kind of life that even a few years previously would have been largely unthinkable.163 Ibelieve that in much the same way, the book My Reminiscences presents a model of a 162 In addition to these three major autobiographical texts, there are several other minor texts that Dey also produced that have an autobiographical element, including short journal and newspaper articles like “Amar Chelebela”, and the book Indian Life and Legends (1974). 163 Sudipta Kaviraj, “The Invention of Private Life: A Reading of Sibnath Sastri's Autobiography,” Telling Lives in India, David Arnold and Stuart Blackburn, eds. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004), 93. 143possible life, lived as a professional Bengali artist. This self-published pamphlet in essence presents an outline of a constellation of skills and opportunities that made such a life possible, including details of personal travel, friendships, choice of specialization (crucially, through printmaking), paths of professionalization, and access to and best use of new forms of urban patronage and self-promotion. It is also important that this text was self-published by Dey in the context of intense challenges to his authority as principal of the Government School of Art. Recall that many were surprised the post had not gone to Tagore family member Jamini Ganguly. Even in the 1930s, Dey was still having to justify and validate his position, and producing a text like My Reminiscences that set forth his various qualifications would have been an effective tool in that struggle.My Reminiscences is also particularly interesting because it was self-published. The two copies preserved at the Mukul Dey Archive in Santiniketan testify to the hand-made nature of this publication, as they illustrate that some copies had a printed cover (figure 3.2) while others had a hand-written one (figure 3.3). As an artist who specialized in etching and engraving specifically, Dey had privileged access to specialized printmaking equipment, along with the skills and training necessary to be able to use that equipment well. He kept the intaglio printing press he had obtained in America in 1917 in his home for the rest of his life, and he also maintained good working relationships with local publishers, often using them for larger publishing projects. In fact, it would not be an understatement to say that Mukul Dey was a prolific producer of printed imagery and textsfor his entire career. My Reminiscences is thereby interesting for the ways that it 144participates in a much larger body of self-published textual and visual material produced by Dey, including personalized insignia, letterhead and logos, which collectively added greatly to the validation and reinforcement of Dey’s authority, and testified that his printedmaterial was legitimate. Examples of such additional, self-printed and -produced ephemera made by Mukul Dey include a “With Compliments” card displaying one of his personalized logos (figure 3.8), Christmas cards with reproductions of original etchings by Dey (figure 3.9), and self-published catalogues of works for sale from Dey's collection, which include a boat-shapedlogo and seal that was designed for Dey by Rabindranath Tagore (figure 3.10). At times Dey also impressed some of his works with the personalized seals of Okakura Tensin and Gaganendranath Tagore (figure 3.11), which Dey acquired sometime in the 1930s. When considered together, the large body of printed imagery and texts produced by Dey around the time that he produced My Reminiscences speaks to the ways that the tools of printing and printmaking were (at that time and for those artists who could wield them) a valuable means by which to promote oneself as a professional Bengali artist. Although Dey may have been the artist who best and most consistently utilized these strategies and tools, his example would have provided a model for many of the art students who passed through the Government School of Art during his fifteen-year tenure as principal. Finally, towards the end of his life Dey dictated the Bangla-language memoir Amar Katha(My Story). The choice of title is significant, as the use of “katha” to refer to one’s 145memoirs could have signalled that Dey’s book was staking a claim to a genealogy of autobiography that reached back to Binodini Dasi’s Amar Katha, originally published in 1913. Born into prostitution, Dasi eventually became one of the most famous stage actresses of the era, but her humble origins often stood in the way of her receiving her due the recognition and acknowledgement. Written when she was mourning the death of several important people in her life, Binodini Dasi’s Amar Katha is tinged with resentmentand hostility at a society that did not fully accept her.164 By choosing to title his own final memoir Amar Katha as well, it is possible that Mukul Dey was attempting to draw a parallel between the way that his contributions to the Bengali art world had been unfairly marginalized, as Dasi’s had been to the world of Bengali theatre. Although not published until after Dey's death, Amar Katha was recorded at a time when biographical accounts of several other artists who had also been active in the early twentieth century were also appearing in print. Nandalal Bose's biography Bharatshilpi Nandalal, for example, was written by Panchanan Mondal (in consultation with Bose) andpublished in four volumes between 1982 and 1993. Similarly, the fictionalized biography of Ramkinkar Baij written by Samaresh Basu, Dekhi Nai Phire, appeared first as a series of articles in the journal Desh through the 1980s before later being published in book form. Autobiographies had been popular in Bengal for a very long time by this point, but the proliferation of autobiographical texts from Bengali artists who had been active in the 164 Binodini Dasi, My Story and My Life as an Actress, ed. and trans. Rimli Bhattacharya (New Delhi: Kali for Women, 1998).146early twentieth century at this time suggests that the art history of the late colonial period was becoming increasingly ripe for revisitation and reinterpretation, and that biographical texts were one of the means by which alternative and competing interpretations and accounts could be presented and debated. Indeed, it seems there was something of an autobiographical war being waged at the end of the twentieth century, with the same events and the same people being presented in very different ways in different memoirs, asartists nearing the end of their careers (and lives) sought a final means by which to secure their place in art history and to ensure that their version of events would be the one remembered. For example, the minor scandal mentioned earlier, when Mukul Dey slappedthe face of Abanindranath’s son and quit his employment at the Jorasanko home, is recounted both by Dey in his own memoir Amar Katha and by Nandalal Bose and Panchanan Mondal in Bharatshilpi Nandalal. In the latter, Dey is criticized for biting the hand that fed him, and not being duly deferential to his illustrious patrons. In the former, Dey stands by his refusal to be insulted by a spoiled young boy. The idea of blame is whatmay have concerned Dey and Bose, but we as readers can perhaps see the disagreement itself, and the fact that it played itself out in duelling autobiographical texts, as proof that biography was and continues to be an important player in the telling of Bengali art history.Taken as a whole, the autobiographical writings of Mukul Dey provide a powerful insight into the ways in which one particular Indian artist was able to first enter into the British artworld of the early twentieth century by building on a strong tradition of and fascination with artists' biographies (with the book My Pilgrimages), how he was also able to reinsert 147himself into the Indian art world by presenting evidence of his international successes in a biographical format (with the pamphlet My Reminiscences), and finally how he was able to reflect and comment on the successes and failures of his career towards the end of his life (with Amar Katha). These kinds of writings testify to the importance of the autobiographical text was a powerful tool by which artists of this period were able to both authorize and author themselves, not only by providing a means by which to introduce the artist to its public, but also by actively contributing to the formation of the identity of the professional modern Bengali artist. 3.6 Portraits and the Individual in South AsiaPortraiture also reflects a complex and fascinating relationship with individualism. Like biography, portraiture is often treated as a particularly modern phenomenon in South Asia,despite the existence of a rich history of pre-modern images in South Asia that could be categorized as portraits; examples of ancient and pre-modern South Asian portraiture are both varied and numerous.165 But historical portrait images from South Asia tend to be dismissed as idealized representations only, not concerned with capturing accurate physiological or psychological details, but instead intended to communicate something of 165 The earliest images from South Asia that are widely understood as portraits date from the Kushan Dynasty of the first and second centuries of the Common Era. Many later examples of portraits of royalty, donors and individual devotees were also carved in and around the south Indian temples of the Chola and Pallava dynasties of the seventh to twelfth centuries. For more on the Kushan portraits see John Rosenfield, The Dynastic Arts of the Kushans (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1967). For more on Chola and Pallava portrait sculpture from South India, see: Padma Kaimal, “The Problem of Portraiture in South Asia, circa 870-970 AD,” Artibus Asiae vol. 58, no. 1/2 (1999), 59-133; and T.G. Aravamuthan, Portrait Sculpture in South India (London: The India Society, 1931). 148the subject’s “veritable spiritual essence.”166 Thus in many ways the literature on portraiture mirrors how biographical and autobiographical texts have been discussed in much of the existing South Asian-centred scholarship (as originating in the West, despite ample pre-modern South Asian examples).For example, the seventh century text Pratimanataka has often been quoted in art historical texts dealing with this aspect of South Asian portraiture. In this text, an incident is recounted in which Bharata visits an ancestral picture gallery, where he is unable to distinguish between the portrait of his deceased father Dasaratha and those of his more distant ancestors. From the early twentieth century work of Ananda Coomaraswamy onwards, scholars have interpreted this passage as proof that Indians were not historically interested in portraiture, working according to the assumption that portraiture is always concerned with the capturing of an accurate physiognomic likeness.167 Recently however, Vishakha Desai and Denise Patry Leidy have pointed out that this inability of Bharata to distinguish his father’s image is not a cause for concern or grief in the text, and have suggested that the indistinguishable representations of Dasaratha and his ancestors are meant to convey the interconnected nature of their shared identities and qualities.168 This interpretation suggests that ancient examples of portraits in South Asia were not intended 166 Ananda Coomaraswamy, “The Traditional Conception of Ideal Portraiture,” Journal of the Indian Societyof Oriental Art, vol. 7 (1939), 75. In Coomaraswamy’s paradigm of a spiritually superior Asia to counter thematerialism of the West, this formula obviously and intentionally rendered South Asian “portraits” finer and more profound than their western counterparts. 167 Ibid., 74; and B.N. Goswamy, “Essence and Appearance: Some Notes on Indian Portraiture,” in Facets ofIndian Art, edited by Skelton et.al. (London: The Victoria and Albert Museum 1986), 202. 168 Vishakha Desai and Denise Patry Leidy, “A Brief History of Asian Portraiture,” in Faces of Asia: Portraits from the Permanent Collection (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1989), 20.149to communicate the individual singularity of particular persons, but were instead meant to convey something of the intricate web of family and clan connections which defined each “individual” subject. The Mughal period in India is usually credited with the introduction of a style of portraiture in South Asia that was concerned with the representation of particular individuals that display a significant amount of “physiognomic specificity with some psychological orientation.”169 The Mughals drew in part from Timurid models from Iran and Central Asia, as well as from European art collected by the Imperial court. Beginning in the reign of Emperor Akbar and intensifying during that of Jahangir, European prints and paintings were avidly collected by the Mughal Emperors and by courtiers seeking to imitate the rulers’ models of patronage. The fashion for realistic rendering of volume through shading and accurate rendering of accurate (and even idiosyncratic) facial details then spread rapidly – not only within the Mughal court but also amongst the various Rajput courts who were culturally influenced by the former. The practice of portraiture with “physiognomic specificity” and “psychological orientation” in South Asia is also connected in part to European cultural and artistic influence first experienced at the Mughal court, and which were later intensified over the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This period saw the rapid expansion of the middle classes, which drastically expanded the patronage and demand for flattering 169 Ibid, 21. 150portraits. At the same time, South Asia also witnessed the importation and mastery of new techniques of oil painting and photography, which made greater degrees of realistic portraiture available to larger and larger audiences. As the new Westernized notions of individualism and celebrity took hold across South Asia (particularly in Bengal), collections of portraits of famous individuals became widespread, much in the same way that biographical accounts did. In the increased interest in portraiture during the late colonial period in Bengal particularly, we can trace the increasing popularity of, and interest in, the life stories of unique individuals. In addition to his own fascinating biography and his profligacy in writing biographical texts, Mukul Dey is also a useful case study for the exploration of issues related to modernartistic individualism because, when we look at the few examples of books of portraiture that occur within the category of “books of artists’ prints,” almost all of them were produced by Mukul Dey.170 Perhaps because of his own fierce individualism, which prevented him from taking up the direct care for his extended family following the death of this father and instead drove him to determinedly pursue his own education and career goals, Mukul Dey appears to have been fascinated with capturing the portraits of other singular individuals around him. During the course of his career Dey produced at least three collections of portraits in book format, as well as many other individual portrait 170 The possible exception is Chittaprosad’s Sketchbook of 30 Portraits, which was a sketchbook of original drawings depicting various Indian and international Communist luminaries. This book was given in 1943 to “The Commune National Headquarters, Communist Party of India, by the Communist Student Faction” and was intended as a one-of-a-kind object. It was not reproduced and published until 2011 by the Delhi Art Gallery in conjunction with a retrospective of Chittaprosad’s work. Thus it qualifies as a “print artist’s book” but not as a “book of artists’ prints.” 151studies. The three major collections are his Twelve Portraits (1917), 20 Portraits (1943) and Portraits of Gandhi (1948). In what follows, I offer a close examination of the first of these publications, followed by a shorter, more general description of the last two. 3.6.1 Twelve Portraits (1917)Twelve Portraits represents the first manifestation of what would be a long career of printing and publishing undertaken by Mukul Dey. This book was published by Amal Home publishers in Calcutta in 1917, during the brief period when Dey had returned to India with Tagore following their tour of Japan and America, and before he left South Asia in order to undertake further travels and education abroad. The book begins with a fairly lengthy introduction from Sir John Woodroffe, who at the time was the Chief Justiceof the Calcutta High Court. This introductory text is largely a biography (really, somethingof a curriculum vitae in paragraph form) of Mukul Dey, which begins by noting his educational credentials as a student of Rabindranath’s school at Santiniketan and later a pupil of Abanindranath’s in Calcutta. The introduction goes on to list the periodicals in which Dey’s works had to date been published (Prabasi and The Modern Review), and theexhibitions in which his works had been displayed (noting when they had found a ready sale). Finally, Woodroffe’s introductory text notes that, following Dey’s return to India after his travels abroad with Rabindranath, he had largely devoted himself to portrait studies in etchings. Woodroffe attests to the veracity of Dey’s work, noting that: 152Having met most of the representative Bengalis here depicted I can vouch for the excellence of the likenesses and the skill of the artist in seizing the fundamental characteristics of his sitters…. The present volume is the outcome of the appreciation and encouragement which Mr. Dey has previously received from the artisticpublic and will itself again, I am sure, generate both. Portraiture in particular will appeal to all, and most will be glad to have a pictorial record of relations and friends – something which has that artistry which so few photographs show.171  This introductory text from Woodroffe is dated December 5, 1917 in Calcutta, and is followed by six pages of tightly-packed text consisting of biographical notes on the twelveindividuals whose portraits follow on individual pages, in the same sequence. Those included and illustrated are (all names are sic, as printed): (1) The Honourable Justice Sir Asutosh Mookerjee; (2) Sir Jagadis Chandra Bose; (3) Sir Satyendra Prasanna Sinha; (4) Prafulla Chandra Ray; (5) Sir Gooroo Dass Banerjee; (6) Brajendra Nath Seal; (7) Surendranath Banerjee; (8) Motilal Ghose; (9) Abanindranath Tagore; (10) Bipin Chandra Pal; (11) Ramananda Chatterjee; (12) Sir Rabindranath Tagore. Each image is signed and dated by the sitter, some in English and others in Bengali. Biographical texts on each of these sitters are provided, all following a similar format that in many ways mirrors the information provided about Mukul Dey in Sir Woodroffe’s introductory text. First the name of the sitter is given, followed by (in almost every case) along list of acronyms indicating their credentials. Consider the case of Jagadis Chandra Bose, for example (figure 3.12): his name is followed by “Kt., C.S.I., C.I.E., M.A 171 Twelve Portraits (Calcutta: Amal Home, 1917), n.p.153(Cantab), D.Sc. (London).”172 In each case this is then followed by a catalogue-like entry of each sitter’s education, achievements and distinctions, ending in most cases with a list of their publications. If we again consider the example of J.C. Bose, in reproducing his biographical listing below we can gain a sense of the general nature of the rest of the texts contained in this publication. Although lengthy, it is thus worth reproducing in its entirety,and it is also worth noting that it is actually one of the shorter biographical entries in the book:  Emeritus Professor of Physics, Presidency College, Calcutta. Born at the village of Rarirkhal, Dacca. Son of the late Babu Bhagaban Chandra Bose. Educated, Calcutta; Christ College, Cambridge. Natural Science Tripos Scholar, Cambridge. Doctor of Science, University of London. On returning to India was appointed Professor of Physics, Presidency College, Calcutta. Awarded a Parliamentary grant for scientific researches. Attended International Scientific Congress, Paris 1900. Visited Europe several times on deputation by the Government and addressed the Royal Institute, England and various Learned Societies on his researches. Made a C.I.E., 1903 and C.S.I., 1907. Visited Europe and America on a Government deputation, 1914-15. Lectured in England before the Royal Institute, Imperial College of Science, Royal Society of Medicine, Universities of Oxford and Cambridge and in the United States, America before the Universities ofHarvard, Columbia, Chicago and Wisconsin as well as other scientific Societies. His latest researches and discoveries on Plant Physiology were appreciated and accepted by the foremost European and Americanscientists. Retired from the Presidency College as the Emeritus Professor of Physics, 1915. The Government granted him a large sum to erect a Research Laboratory and placed at his disposal an extensive garden upon the Ganges at a village near Calcutta for his experimental researches on Plant Physiology. On the 30th November last Sir Jagadis Chandra delivered to the nation a splendid Laboratory and lecture-theatre in Calcutta for the promotion of original scientific researches. Publications: response in the Living and Non-Living: Plant Response, 172 Ibid. 154Irritability of Plants, etc. and various contributions to the Transactions of the Royal Society, England.173 This biographical summary indicates already early on in Dey’s career a keen interest in (one might even say an obsession with) the presentation of one’s bona fides. Dey is meticulous in listing qualifications and titles, despite the fact that, as Sir Woodroffe’s introductory text indicates, books like Twelve Portraits were likely to be bought and collected by those who already knew, either personally or by reputation, the individuals represented therein. Throughout his career, Dey (and many others) would obsessively recount his own qualifications and bona fides to all who would listen. The images—the portraits themselves—offer insights into how this publication functionedsomewhat differently from those described in the previous chapter. For example, let us consider the portrait of “Sir Gooroo Das Banerjee” (hereafter referred to by the more common spelling, Gurudas Banerjee), the fifth subject depicted in Twelve Portraits (figure3.13). Banerjee was a judge of the Calcutta High Court and the first Indian appointed Vice-Chancellor of Calcutta University. Dey’s portrait depicts an already elderly Banerjeein three-quarter profile, gazing out from hooded eyes towards the viewer’s left. Prominent nose and moustache largely define Banerjee’s lower face, while a large, flat expanse of forehead dominates the top of his head, giving way to an unkempt tousle of dark, thinning hair at the temples and at the back of the neck. A pinched collar surrounds Banerjee’s 173 Ibid. 155neck, with the engraved lines trailing off along slight, sloping shoulders. At the bottom of the image are written Banerjee’s signatures in both Bengali and English and the date 24 September 1917. At bottom right is an impressed seal with Mukul Dey’s name, an early precursor of the sometimes elaborate use of seals by Dey later in his career. In contrast to the sharp bold, compositions of solid black and white space that characterized the woodcut and linocut prints of images of the village and countryside that were discussed in the precious chapter, instead here the delicate lines of the drypoint technique are used to greatest advantage as Mukul Dey concentrates all detail on the face and head, while only the merest outline of the sitter’s body is indicated, fading and blending into the empty space behind. Rather than the strength of physical force used to gouge out sections of the woodblock, instead in drypoint only a gentle pressure is requiredof the printmaker in order to engrave delicate, subtle lines into the copper plate. As he does so with greater or lesser pressure, fine metal scrapings of varying heights and sizes are thrown up on either side of the engraver’s tool. These ridges, known as the burr, are typically removed before the printing process in other types of engraving but in drypoint they are retained; as a result, not only the line itself but also the surrounding burr is made to hold a film of ink, producing soft, blurred lines and highly painterly effects such as are evident in Mukul Dey’s portrait of Gurudas Banerjee. Although often referred to as “drypoint etching,” that is actually a misnomer. Drypoint uses no acids to cut into the plate, which is an essential characteristic of etching. “The intaglio process of drypoint” or 156“drypoint engraving” are therefore more accurate descriptions. Simply “drypoint” is most succinct. The fragility of the burr is particularly important because it renders drypoint an inherently impractical technique for producing large numbers of prints from a single plate. The burr wears away quickly during the printing process, meaning that only a small number of verygood impressions, often no more than a dozen, can be taken from a single plate, whereas awell-engraved plate with the burr removed could yield several hundred or even a thousandgood impressions.174 Mukul Dey worked around this limitation, however, by submitting his original drypoint prints to commercial presses so they could be adapted to more mass-produced publication, thus crucially keeping costs down. But nevertheless, even through that essential translation there is still a resonance of the fact that drypoint renders a very unique kind of multiple: one which announces its profitability through multiplication, while at the same time harbouring a secret inimitability; one in which each multiple has qualities of uniqueness and also sameness, where each iteration exists together and separately at once.  In the negotiation of the tensions between individuality and collectivity, and between uniqueness and the copy, the medium of drypoint offered some interesting possibilities forthe professional Bengali artist of the late colonial period. In its production of unusually 174 Wendy Thompson, "The Printed Image in the West: Drypoint," in Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–). http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/drpt/hd_drpt.htm (October 2003). 157unique copies, what drypoint achieves in relation to issues of repetition, mimicry, authenticity and originality resonates with a way of being modern that emerges from places like Bengal, where people became aware of being modern at the same moment that they became aware of the accusation of lateness and unoriginality in their own modernity. Drypoint—and the way it represents and operates—essentially guarantees that no two images can ever be the same, and that with every successive image we  witness the transformation and dissolution of representation itself. What is interesting is the entire set with all its iterations and the connections between them, rather than an isolated, individualinstance within that continuum. Each drypoint print becomes like a single celluloid cell in a strip of chronological, filmic time: relational only to that which comes before and after, essentially four-dimensional by existing in and through time in the same way that it exists in and through the usual spatial, physical, material dimensions of two-dimensional imagery. This kind of meta-modernity, which recognizes each local, or “alternative” modernity as iterations in a continuum, is exactly what is evoked in the effect of the burr that plays a paramount role in Mukul Dey's portrait of Gurudas Banerjee included in Twelve Portraits.The delicacy of the fine, interconnected lines that make up the august man’s head of hair, for example, invite the viewer to bring the image close to the eye and body, in effect asking us to step up to the great man himself and to take in his visage and personality at close personal quarters, rather than to appreciate the image as a graphic logo or icon. 1583.6.2. 20 Portraits (1943)Having launched into his career of book publishing with his collection of portraits, Mukul Dey later ventured away from the biography/portrait model (but maintained his commitment to the drypoint technique) in order to publish a book of prints illustrating verses of poetry, titled Fifteen Drypoints by Mukul Dey, Interpreted in Verse by Harindranath Chattopadhyaya (1939). But Mukul Dey returned to the portrait/biography model in 1943 with the publication of the book 20 Portraits. But in this book Dey no longer uses drypoint exclusively, he also includes reproductions of pencil and chalk drawings. He also broadened the social field(s) from which he selected his sitters/subjects.Whereas Twelve Portraits (1917) had featured exclusively men, and exclusively Indians, in 20 Portraits (1943) Dey includes not only foreigners like Albert Einstein, but also threewomen (Annie Besant, Sarojini Neidu, and Rukmini Devi).  20 Portraits includes an author’s preface by Dey (dated February 12, 1943 in Calcutta), but surprisingly no introduction or dedication written by a famous guest author, as these were a common way to add prestige to such a publication. There is also an arrangement oftexts and images that is different than what was seen earlier in Twelve Portraits. In the earlier book, all of the biographical texts were given first, followed by pages of the imagesof the sitters in the same sequence. In 20 Portraits each image has its own facing page with an accompanying biographical text. 15920 Portraits also has a detailed table of contents that includes the names of the sitters, the date and location when the portraits were taken from life, the particular medium of each image (mostly drypoint, but also some pencil and chalk drawings), their original sizes, andnotes indicating whether the sitters signed or dated their portraits. The individuals featuredin the book are: (1) Sri Aurobindo Ghose; (2) Sir Maurice Gwyer; (3) Rabindranath Tagore; (4) Annie Besant; (5) Sir John Anderson; (6) C.F. Andrews; (7) W.W. Pearson; (8) Albert Einstein; (9) Sven Hedin; (10) Sarojini Naidu; (11) Sir Francis Younghusband; (12) Ernest William O’Gorman Kirwan; (13) Sarat Chandra Chatterji; (14) George Arundale; (15) Sir Doabji Tata; (16) Rukmini Devi; (17) Bimala Churn Law; (18) Werner Keventer; (19) M.K. Gandhi; and (20) Abanindranath Tagore. The book itself is not marked with a price, but in a catalogue of works for sale that Mukul Dey printed when he was selling off much of his personal collection in the late 1940s and early 1950s, a copy of 20Portraits was then listed as being for sale for five rupees.175  We can easily recognize in 20 Portraits a maturation of the strategies of publishing inexpensive books of prints, investing in the value of (especially famous and noteworthy) individuals, and the articulation of those individuals' singularity through the medium of drypoint. Dey had used these strategies to great advantage earlier in his career in Twelve Portraits and almost twenty-five years later he was still able to use them to advance his career can carve out spaces of social and economic opportunity for himself. 175 File 012 (Dark Green), Mukul Dey Archives, Santiniketan. 1603.6.3 Portraits of Gandhi (1948)Published very soon after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, Portraits of Gandhi includes fifteen images that are reproductions of sketches taken from life in both pencil and drypoint, combined with a lengthy introductory passage written by Mukul Dey that recounts each of the three occasions on which he met Gandhi personally (1918, 1928, and 1945), when he had the occasion to make these portraits from life. In terms of investing in the publication of images of unique individuals, Portraits of Gandhi demonstrates that such a strategy was still useful for artists even after the end of the colonial period. The textis printed in six pages comprised of facing pages of the same text written in Hindi and in English. The book is published by Orient Longmans, and features a striking yellow cover with khadi cloth texture and a repeating graphic of a spinning wheel, outlined in green (figure 3.14). This author’s copy has a hand-written inscription by Mukul Dey on the frontcover page, which reads (in English): “To Mr. and Mrs. Brinton Harvey Stone—with greetings of the Season—and with kindest regards from Mukul Dey and family. The College of Idaho, Caldwell, Idaho, November 23, 1953.” There is also a hand-written Bengali signature from Dey. 1613.7  A Methodological Shift In this chapter I have been primarily concerned with books of autobiography and portraiture as objects of analysis, and in a close examination of the autobiographical texts and books of portraiture produced by Mukul Chandra Dey in particular. In doing so, I have demonstrated the ways in which these tools of autobiography and portraiture were powerfully activated in the hands of this particular artist, as he negotiated through the professional art world in Bengal over the course of his career, and especially as he dealt with issues related to individualism and collectivity. Also in this chapter, I pursued a semantic shift from “books of artists’ prints” to “print artists’ books” in order to draw different types of publications into the discussion. As I conclude this chapter, I would like to introduce and propose another shift–in this case a methodological rather than semantic one–in order also to consider the usefulness of biography and autobiography not only as objects of analysis, but also as tools of methodology in contemporary academic historical and art historical analysis. I propose this shift while recognizing that there has been ample and convincing scholarship that has worked to de-centre the emphasis on the individual and to instead theorize people and bodies as networks of power relations rather than as autonomous agents. Moreover, I propose this biographical methodology with no desire to return to any “great man” or “great artist” theory of history or art history. My interest in pursuing a 162biographical approach to research is in keeping with the work of scholars such as Richard Eaton, who has written and lectured extensively on his use of biography as an essential strategy for “de-territorializing” the teaching and writing of South Asian history. Eaton convincingly argues that while in popular culture fascination with life-narratives has neverdiminished, in the (western, recent) academy there has been a marked suspicion of biography as a legitimate and reputable methodology. He suggests that this suspicion can be traced back to Marx’s 1859 declaration that “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but on the contrary it is their social existence that determines their consciousness,” thus making it incumbent upon historians (and art historians) to explore the past precisely “not by tracing the lives of individual actors, but by studying vast, impersonal socio-economic forces.”176 However Eaton recognizes that by the early twenty-first century some scholars, particularly those studying South Asia, began to view biography not as antithetical to the writing of good social history and art history, but as a valuable vehicle that could be recovered and mobilized precisely for that purpose. He notes David Arnold and Stuart Blackburn’s edited volume Telling Lives in India: Biography, Autobiography, and Life History, published in 2004, and Vijaya Ramaswamy and Yogesh Sharma’s volume Biography as History: Indian Perspectives (2009) as prime examples of how biography can be so mobilized. Eaton’s own study, A Social History of the Deccan, 1300-1761: Eight Indian Lives (2005) is also a key example of this trend. In fact, Eaton credits seeing an exhibit of portraits, and his consideration of portraiture’s 176 Richard Eaton, “Removing Territory from the Teaching of History,” (paper presented at the University ofPennsylvania, Annenberg Seminars in History series, April 15, 2005, and re-presented as the keynote address at the 35th Annual Conference on South Asia in Madison Wisconsin, October 7, 2005). 163relationship to biography, with his realization of the value of a methodological approach that dealt with the lives of specific people as microcosms of the larger social forces that they have lived through, and in which they were thoroughly immersed.In the study of the art world and art history of late colonial Bengal, I believe it is particularly important to approach the field through a biographical lens because by looking closely at the life of someone like Mukul Dey, for example, that we can better illustrate the various possibilities and options that existed for the modern, professional, Bengali printmaking artist at this time. One’s position on that social and economic scale was something that could be (and indeed had to be) constantly negotiated. At the beginning of his career, Dey struggled to earn a living by selling portraits quickly, often on the street. But after his assembly of suitably impressive credentials and personal connections, Dey was able to secure such a prestige position as that of the Principal of the Government Art School. During his tenure there from 1928 to 1943, Dey was undoubtedlyin a powerful and well-paid position that afforded him social advantage and access that more tenuous, junior artists could not hope of. But by the 1940s, the political situation in India had changed, rendering many of the skills and tools that had served Dey so well in the past––especially his connections to British institutions and patrons––as suddenly a liability. Following a tumultuous power struggle, Dey was forced to step down as Principal of the Government School of Art in 1943, after which he suffered a profound physical and mental collapse. Thereafter he struggled greatly to earn a living and support himself and his family, selling off most of his personal art collection in the process. We 164see glimpses in the archive of how Dey continued to try to use his old connections and strategies to secure employment, but how the situation had changed sufficiently to render these strategies and tools ineffective. In a letter preserved at his family archive in Santiniketan written by Muirhead Bone to Mukul Dey, dated 16 June 1947, Bone refers to a letter of recommendation Dey had asked him to write in support of his application for the position of Curator at the Victoria Memorial Hall in Calcutta. Bone refers to thegrandiose list of credentials and references that Dey assembled for his application as beingunlikely to succeed, and suggests that it instead be pitched “in a more sober key.”177I also believe that it is important for us to study the art history of this period biographicallybecause doing so allows us, for example, to tease out some of the significant similarities and differences between artists who may appear at first to have a great deal in common, such as Mukul Dey and Chittaprosad. Both of these men were amongst those few Bengali artists who specialized in printmaking in the early twentieth century, although (perhaps crucially) Chittaprosad’s specialities were woodcut and linocut while Dey’s was drypoint. Both men had backgrounds in and connections to East Bengal; Dey was born outside of Dhaka while Chittaprosad received much of his education in Myemsingh. This experience in East Bengal situated both artists as somewhat detached from the culturally elite in Calcutta. And both artists were connected to Rabindranath Tagore and his educational project at Santiniketan, although Chittaprosad did not study there formally as Dey did. Nevertheless, despite these superficial similarities, when we look more closely at each of 177 Uncatalogued album of correspondence, Mukul Dey Archives, Santiniketan.  165these artists’ biographies we find a critical difference in the significance of the year 1943. For Dey, 1943 was a moment of personal suffering, when he was forced out of his position at the Government Art School and withdrew into an internal world of illness and despair. For Mukul Dey, 1943 was a personal tragedy. But for Chittaprosad, 1943 was inexorably bound up in the larger historical events of the 1943 Bengal Famine. As I will argue in the following chapter, it was the Famine that would prove to be the breaking ground on which the issues of the rural versus the urban, and the individual versus the collective, came to a head in the most horrific circumstances imaginable.1664: The Famine4.1 Constellation, Rupture, AporiaThis chapter continues to examine the perceived binaries of the rural and the urban, and the individual and the collective, as they were particularly negotiated through print media and print culture in late colonial Bengal. This chapter specifically addresses some of ways these issues were played out during a particular moment of great crisis that represented a rupture in the constellation of artistic and economic forces that had previously established a certain balance during the 1920s and 1930s. The particular crisis that this chapter addresses is the famine that decimated Bengal beginning in 1943 and lasting into at least 1945.178 In this chapter I consider the Famine’s representation in some of the art of the period, but what follows is not intended as a catalogue of Famine related artwork. Rather, I intend to look closely at certain images to explore the limits of print’s possibilities at the time, and perhaps even the limits of representation itself. I shall suggest how, in such terrible circumstances, there were some characteristics of print and printed imagery that could be uniquely involved and animated, while there were also other characteristics of print that weighed heavily against its active mobilization. 178 These events are sometimes referred to as the Great Bengal Famine, or the Bengal Famine of 1943, to distinguish it from other major famines that took place in Bengal in 1770, 1783, 1866, 1873-1874, 1892, and1897. In the Bengali language, this crisis it is referred to as the Famine of ’50, corresponding to the year 1350 of the Bengali calendar (1943). In this project I use the upper-case “Famine” when I am referring to theparticular historical events that occurred in Bengal in 1943 to roughly 1945, and I use the lower-case “famine” when referring generally to a situation of widespread starvation amongst a given population.167The circumstances of the 1943 Bengal Famine warrant remembering and reiterating. The long-lasting consequences and ramifications of the Famine were keenly felt in Bengal and surrounding regions for decades, well into the post-Independence period for both India and Pakistan (which then included East Pakistan/East Bengal). Nevertheless, it is true that outside of South Asia the 1943 Bengal Famine is little known and rarely discussed, even in many histories dealing with World War Two or the end of the British colonial period in India. The Famine tends to have been edged out of focus in narratives that are more concerned with the European and East Asian theatres of World War Two. The Famine also tends to be overlooked by nationalist Indian (and Pakistani, and even Bangladeshi) narratives that focus on 1947 and the events of Independence and Partition. Lost in the excess of events of historical significance (and trauma), the 1943 Bengal Famine has become something of a “lost history” in the general historical consciousness.179 The NobelPrize-winning work of Amartya Sen has certainly contributed to a greater awareness of theBengal Famine amongst economists and scholars of South Asia.180 But in other disciplinesof scholarship (including art history), discussion of the Famine has been muted. 179 For example, Open University’s podcast on BBC Radio, “Things We Forgot to Remember,” featured a history of the Bengal Famine on 14 January 2008: http://www.open.edu/openlearn/history-the-arts/history/social-economic-history/listen-the-bengal-famine180 Sen won the 1998 Nobel Prize for his work on welfare economics and the economics of poverty and famines generally, with particular reference to the 1943 Bengal Famine which he himself lived through as a young boy. His Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlements and Deprivation (New York: Oxford University Press, 1981) remains a critical text on the subjuct. 168The fact that there is only a small body of art historical literature dealing with the Famine could perhaps be explained by the historical aporia noted earlier, wherein the pre-occupation with the rise (and fall) of the Bengal School (ending in roughly 1920) and the art histories of independent India and Pakistan (beginning in 1947) have left the intervening period relatively under-researched. This was true of the existing scholarship for some time. But thankfully, recently there has been some valuable work on exactly this in-between era of Bengali art history. Partha Mitter’s The Triumph of Modernism: India’s Artists and the Avant-Garde 1922-1947 is situated exactly in the intervening period for example, and sheds light on many important aspects of the avant-garde art world and forms of artistic expression during that era. However, unfortunately Mitter’s book has only a very brief mention of the Bengal Famine and its impact on art or society.181 This is perhaps not altogether surprising, given that Mitter’s focus is explicitly the avant-garde. This means that the particular art world(s) that Mitter explicates would have been relevant/resonant with a relatively small population of socio-economic elite of the period, comprised of both members of the European (colonial) community and wealthy Bengalis who enjoyed bhadralok at least. These were not communities that were the most profoundly affected by the Famine, and therefore it is possible that art histories that focus on such communities would miss the Famine’s impact elsewhere, and on others. What the images and books that this chapter examines suggest is that artists who worked with 181 Mitter’s The Triumph of Modernism does refer to the Famine once, in reference to a painting by Deviprosad Roy Choudhury of a peasant woman with a starving child. Mitter writes that “of course, this harrowing subject inspired not only Deviprosad but a number of artists in Bengal,” but does not elaborate. The Triumph of Modernism, 171. 169printmaking and print media in Bengal at this time engaged with and were affected by the Famine differently than has been presented in much of the existing art history. Iftikhar Dadi suggests that Mitter in his most recent book would have done well to pay closer attention to the effects of the Famine on the socially engaged art movements that emerged from Calcutta in the 1940s.182 Dadi is right; many professional artists became in-tensely politically during this period. Perhaps the compulsion to earn a living in difficult circumstances had the effect of radicalizing artists in various ways. Dadi’s own work on the “in-between” era of the 1920s to the 1940s in South Asian art history is another im-portant recent contribution to the field. His Modernism and the Art of Muslim South Asia takes up a narrative in the early 1920s and extends to the end of the twentieth century, charting several interconnected narratives of nationalism, modernism, tradition and cos-mopolitanism in the work of Muslim artists from both India and Pakistan (including East Pakistan, now Bangladesh and previously East Bengal). But unfortunately like Mitter, Dadi also only briefly discusses the Famine and its impact. Dadi mentions the Famine in his discussion of Zainul Abedin (1914-1976). Abedin is known for his pen and ink sketches of Famine subjects and Dadi deals with these briefly,  mostly as a way of filling in background details about the artist’s early career before mov-ing on to a more sustained discussion of Abedin’s work as an art administrator in post-1947 Dhaka, East Pakistan. Dadi does offer a visual analysis of one of Abedin’s Famine 182 Iftikhar Dadi, Review article, The Art Bulletin, vol. 90, no. 4 (2008), 654. 170images, which exactly hits the mark. He suggests that the way Abedin isolated individual figures in his Famine sketches bespoke the fragmentation of networks of family and re-sponsibility during the historical crisis itself.183 This characteristic will be examined in oth-er Famine work explored later on in this chapter. 4.2 A Brief History of the FamineA recounting of the series of events that led to the monumental suffering and horrible deaths of millions of people in Bengal in 1943, 1944 and 1945 reveals a great deal about the inherently ruthless and inequitable nature of modernity, and about the possibilities for art and representation in the face of profound trauma. It also reveals a great deal about what it means to be human, both for better and for worse; the history of the Famine highlights humanity’s horrific twin capacities for both suffering and cruelty. No one who survived the Famine did so without the exercise of self-preservation that often meant terrible brutality enacted against others, and many people manipulated their positions of privilege in order to personally benefit from the situation financially. People have not wanted to look at the Famine, perhaps, because this history implicates everyone. Bengal was prosperous in the early 1940s. It is true that Calcutta no longer had the prestige of being the administrative capital of the British colonial government––by that 183 Iftikhar Dadi, Modernism and the Art of Muslim South Asia (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010), 99-102. Dadi quotes Sanjoy Kumar Mallik regarding the isolation of figures. “Impulses of the 1940s,” in Indian Art: An Overview, ed. Gayatri Sinha, 80-95 (New Delhi: Rupa & Co, 2003).171point the capital had been moved to New Delhi.184 But Calcutta remained a lucrative trading and shipping centre, while the larger region of Bengal (which, following the repealof the 1905 partition, again comprised both East and West Bengal) was an extremely important and productive region. When World War Two erupted in Europe in 1939 and spread to the Pacific theatre by 1941, the human and material resources represented by Britain