Rabindranath Tagore was an Indian polymath who contributed greatly to the fields of literature, art, and philosophy. Referred to as the Bard of Bengal, Tagore is credited with reshaping Bengali literature and music. The first non-European to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, Tagore is also credited with composing the national anthems of India and Bangladesh.
One of the greatest Indian painters of all time, Raja Ravi Varma is best remembered for mixing Indian mythological subjects with the Western historicist style of art. His painting skills made the king of Travancore his patron at 14. His best-known works include The Milkmaid and The Begum’s Bath.
M. F. Husain was an Indian artist and filmmaker best remembered for his association with Indian modernism during the 1940s. A founding member of the Progressive Artists' Group, Husain was one of the 20th century's most renowned Indian artists. In 1991, M. F. Husain was honored with India's second-highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan.
Amrita Sher-Gil was a Hungarian-Indian painter best remembered as a pioneer of modern Indian art. Widely regarded as one of the early-20th century's greatest avant-garde women artists, Sher-Gil's work has influenced several Indian artists like Arpita Singh and Sayed Haider Raza. Her life and career inspired the 1969 documentary film Amrita Sher-Gil which was directed by Bhagwan Das Garga.
Padma Bhushan-winning artist Jamini Roy is remembered for introducing his own style of painting that mingled Western and Indian influences. Once a disciple of Rabindranath Tagore, he excelled in the Kalighat Pat style and depicted Bengali folk life through his works. He was declared as one of the ASI’s Nine Masters of Art.
Indian mythologist and author Devdutt Pattanaik has redefined the genres of Indian folklore, legends and myths by retelling ancient tales through his books. A qualified physician, he later studied comparative mythology and penned bestsellers such as My Gita. His shows, such as Business Sutra and Devlok, have been hits, too.
Kelly Dorji is a Bhutanese actor, artist, and model known for his work in the Indian film industry. After starting his career as a model, Dorji went on to appear in popular films. Dorji is renowned for performing his own stunts in films. Kelly Dorji has also played a major role in increasing the popularity of Bhutanese films in Bhutan.
Legendary Indian costume designer Bhanu Athaiya won India its first Oscar for her work in Gandhi. Throughout her illustrious career, she had worked with legendary directors such as Yash Chopra and Raj Kapoor. Initially a fashion magazine illustrator, she was also interested in painting but later chose fashion designing instead.
Remembered as a cultural icon of Assam, Bishnu Prasad Rabha is popularly known as the Assamese Leonardo da Vinci and Kalaguru. A musician known for composing Rabha Sangeet, he also penned poems and was a skilled dancer. He was later associated with the Revolutionary Communist Party of India.
Nek Chand was an Indian artist, architect, and sculptor. He is best remembered for building an 18-acre sculpture garden named the Rock Garden of Chandigarh which is visited by millions of people annually. In 1984, Nek Chand was honored with India's fourth-highest civilian award, the Padma Shri.
The son of Russian painter and cultural icon Nicholas Roerich and theosophist Helena Roerich, Svetoslav Roerich grew up studying architecture and eventually experimented with landscape and portrait painting, influenced by expressionism. He later moved to India, where he married actor Devika Rani and was awarded a Padma Bhushan.
Padma Bhushan-winning painter Tyeb Mehta is remembered for mingling abstract and expressionist elements in his work and for using diagonal shapes of color. He briefly worked as a film editor before stepping into the world of art and later also joined the Progressive Artists Group. Kali remains one of his iconic works.
Vasudeo S. Gaitonde is remembered as one of the most significant modern abstract painters from India. The Padma Shri winner was born to working-class Goan parents in Nagpur. He won an art scholarship at 19 and never looked back. His works are said to have been influenced by calligraphy.
Ustad Mansur was an Indian painter and court artist. He is best remembered for his work during the reign of Jahangir when he excelled at depicting animals and plants. He is also renowned for his depiction of the dodo and the Siberian crane.
Padma Shri-winning artist Anjolie Ela Menon is known for her use of vibrant colors and her love for religious themes, nudes, and portraits. Her works also mirrored a cubist influence. She earned an art scholarship to Paris and later experimented with various media, such as oil, computer graphics, and glass.
The man behind Mumbai’s Progressive Artists' Group, F.N. Souza was one of the most prominent contemporary painters and didn’t stick to a particular style. He experimented with various subjects, including erotic elements and Christian themes. The Guggenheim International Award winner spent is later years in New York.
Known for his poetic surrealism, Ganesh Pyne was one of the most prominent figures of the Bengal School of Art. Initially an illustrator and animator, he later blended elements of cubism and black-and-white cinema with Bengali folklore in his works. He stayed away from the limelight and even art exhibitions.
B. C. Sanyal was an Indian sculptor, painter, and art teacher. Widely regarded as the master of modernism in Indian art, Sanyal inspired three generations of artists. In 1980, Sanyal was awarded the Lalit Kala Akademi Fellowship, India's highest honor in visual arts. In 1984, he was honored with India's third-highest civilian award, the Padma Bhushan.
Seventeenth-century Mughal painter Abu'l-Hasan was not just patronized by Emperor Jahangir but was also named Nādir al-Zamān, or Wonder of the Age, by him. He was known for his miniature painting and portraits. One of his best-known works was the chinar tree with squirrels, now displayed at the India Office Library.
Basawan was an Indian miniature painter who served as a court painter for Akbar. He is best remembered for his illustrations in Akbar's official biography Akbarnama where Basawan's use of portraiture was seen as an innovation in India at that time. He was also one of the first Indian artists to show a keen interest in Western paintings and techniques.
Manohar Das was an Indian painter who succeeded his father Basawan as court painter for Mughal Emperor Akbar. After serving as a court painter for Akbar, Manohar Das went on to serve under Akbar's successor Jahangir. Many of Manohar Das' works, which depict the royal families at court, can be seen at the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum.
Sahibdin was an Indian miniature painter best remembered for his association with the Mewar School of painting. One of the most important painters of 17th century India, Sahibdin is renowned for incorporating elements of the famous Mughal style into the traditional Rajput style. Among his best-known works are a series of musically themed paintings known as Ragamala.
Daswanth was an Indian painter who worked as a court painter during the reign of Mughal Emperor Akbar. Considered one of the two most important court painters of Akbar along with Basawan, Daswanth played a prominent role in the illustration of Razm-nāmeh, which is regarded as the Persian version of the Hindu epic the Mahabharata.
Farrukh Beg was a Persian miniature painter best remembered for his contribution to Mughal art. He is also remembered for contributing as an illustrator of the Akbarnama as well as the Baburnama. Many of Farrukh Beg's works were commissioned by popular rulers like Ibrahim Mirza, Mirza Muhammad Hakim, Akbar, Ibrahim Adil Shah II, and Jahangir.
Govardhan was an Indian painter best remembered for his association with the famous Mughal School of painting. He was one of the court painters during the reign of popular Mughal Emperors like Akbar and Shah Jahan. He also contributed as an illustrator of Babur's memoir, Baburnama. Many of his works are currently located in museums around the world.
Mughal-era painter Bichitr was one of the favorite painters of both Jahangir and Shah Jahan. Some believe he even painted during Aurangzeb’s reign. His paintings included romantic elements, Indian landscapes, and even figures such as cherubs, inspired by European paintings. One of his self-portraits show him dressed in Hindu attire.
Mughal-era painter Bishandas was one of the most prominent artists of Emperor Jahangir’s reign. Though it is believed he was Hindu, nothing else is known about him. He was also sent to Persia, where his portraits of the Shah fetched him an elephant as a gift for his works.
Mughal painter Daulat was a prominent artist during the reigns of Akbar, Jahangir, and Shah Jahan. A great portrait artist, he illustrated major texts such as the Akbar-nāmeh and Bābur-nāmeh. He also excelled in gold illumination and miniatures. His father and brother were also painters.