KOLKATA: For the first time, art lovers in the city will have the opportunity to see one of Rabindranath Tagore’s rarest oil paintings – Three Witches of Macbeth – which had so long been held in the public gap due to lack of gallery space. Along with Tagore, paintings by other masters of the Bengal school, including relatives of Tagore, will be on display in the visible Abanindranath Tagore storage gallery on the Jorasanko campus of Rabindra Bharati University (RBU). The visible storage gallery will be inaugurated on May 9 to mark the 158th anniversary of Tagore’s birth.

Scholars believe that the most valuable oil painting in the collection is the “Three Witches of Macbeth”. They said the painting is important not only because it is Tagore’s original work, but also because it was influenced by Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”. It has generated a lot of interest among art connoisseurs across the world. This is a dark painting showing three hooded women stirring the potion inside a cauldron. The three women are seen in the moonlight and the suggestion of magic comes from a spark near the cauldron, skillfully created by the light and shadow used by the artist.
Tagore started painting in his sixties. Nonetheless, he produced around 3,000 drawings and paintings and was the first Indian artist to exhibit his works across Europe, Russia, and the United States in 1930.
Prominent artist Suvaprasanna said: “Tagore was heavily influenced by German Expressionism and most of his paintings – portraits, self-portraits, landscapes – were characterized by a mystical pain. He mainly used ink pens for drawings and paintings, as oil paint was rarely used in ‘thakurbari’ at this time. This particular oil painting is therefore one of the rarest.
RBU has restored 72 rare oil paintings, most of which were donated by Maharaja Prabirendra Mohan Tagore and Kumar Purnendu Nath Tagore of Pathuriaghata. The largest oil paintings are already on display in the museum’s Western Art Gallery, while 53 oil paintings, mostly smaller in size, which have so far been kept in the air-conditioned vault will be exhibited in the new visible storage gallery, set up with a grant from the Ministry of Culture.
Baisakhi Mitra, the curator in charge, said: “The restoration, carried out in two phases, funded by the university and carried out by the National Research Laboratory for the Conservation of Cultural Properties in Lucknow, gave new life to the paintings at oil. . She added that the paintings on display in the visible storage gallery are only accessible with prior permissions. Vice Chancellor Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury said, “It is our responsibility to present these precious paintings so that they can be create new perspectives for scholars.The rare painting shows the extent of Shakespeare’s influence on Tagore, who as a child translated Macbeth into Bengali.


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