Kalighat paintings originated in the 19th century from the Kalighat district in Calcutta, becoming a style so unique that it has become a school of art on its own.
The artists, called 'Patuas' or ' Painters on cloth', originally used to depict religious subjects around the vicinity of the Kalighat temple, but over time, Kalighat paintings developed to reflect a variety of subjects, from the depiction of Hindu Gods and mythological characters, to facets of everyday life. And not just that, the artists also chose to portray secular themes and personalities, such as Rani Lakshmibai, and in the process played a role in the Independence movement.
Rendered in bright unabashed colours and bold strokes, these paintings had a personality of their own.
In the ‘Oriental school’ of Kalighat painting, predominant themes shone a spotlight on religious figures and scenes from sacred texts.
The alternate discipline of Kalighat painting, known as the ‘Occidental school,’ included pieces that depicted ordinary people engaging in everyday life or captured the changes taking place in Kolkata at the time.
The late artist Jamini Ray was one of the most notable artists who incorporated the characteristic elements into his own work.