Mysore Paintings

The ancient Indian culture had always made an interesting reading, as it had something significant to contribute in the field of human value system. Art is an integral part of culture. Therefore the study of art in the backdrop of our ancient culture makes it not only interesting but also in the process adds rich value to our learning. Under this context a study of Mysore Paintings, a rich traditional art form of South India enables us to understand the rich cultural values of our past.

The state of Mysore (now called Karnataka) has a unique distinction of pioneering an attractive form of art during 17th and 18th centuries, which later became commonly known as the Mysore School. Historically, Mysore had been a place governed by many a rulers who had a strong passion for visual arts, which included architecture and painting. The intricate work which as been done on several of the temples, palaces and forts in Mysore stands testimony to the architectural and sculpting capabilities of the craft persons of Mysore in the earlier days.

Paintings from Mysore

Raja Woodeyar(1578-1617 AD) is traced to have made some significant contribution to the cause of artists in the different parts of the erstwhile state of Mysore. He had even built two temples; one at Srirangapatna and the other at Ganjam for Nimishambav Devi, a deity worshipped by the artist community.

Artists during this period were engaged in different forms of art which included decorative works in temples, painting temple cars and walls, making temple banners, painting portraits of rulers, saints and deities. It was during the reign of Mummadi Krishnaraja Woodeyar(after the death of Tippu Sultanin 1799 AD), Mysore witnessed a major fillip in the field of visual arts.

The paintings during his period had a variety - murals depicting several scenes of Hindu mythology, portraits of heroes and kings, icons of Hindu mythology, strictly adhering to the iconography principles. These paintings found its place in temples, palaces, community buildings and houses belonging to royalty and rich merchants.

Mysore Arts & Crafts

In the traditional Mysore paintings, the artists used to prepare all the input materials required for executing the painting. This would include brushes, paints, board, gold foil etc. Artists used vegetable and mineral colours made out of pigments of leaves and flowers of various plants and minerals. Today the painting is done with commercially available media like poster and water colours. In the ancient times, paper, wood, wall and cloth formed the base for doing he painting. In modern times it is done mostly on paper pasted on to a board with glue or some other adhesive medium. After the preparation of the board, the required sketch is then made on the paper with a pencil. If a tracing of the sketch is already available it is then transferred on to the board with a carbon paper.

In the earlier days, sketching was made with charcoal prepared by burning tamarind twigs in an iron tube. Colours made out of minerals were prepared by grinding the minerals in a stone mortar and then put in water to make them soft in form of a paste. Brushes were made of different materials, which included squirrel, camel and goat hair. Sometimes grass blades were also used for making sharp lines. Today, commercially available water and poster colours are used with brushes of different grade available in the market. Once the sketch is made, the gesso work is taken up on the area ear marked.


Though the Mysore School is an art form bearing striking resemblance to the Mysore School, it may be noted that there are distinct differences in the style. While the Mysore School gives much of prominence to the relief work done with gold foil and embellishments with decorative stones, the Mysore school underplays the relief work. The Mysore School does not use stones, and the relief work is subtler.
The foil work is more delicate. In the Mysore school extensive use of primary colours are made, viz. green, red and blue. In the case of Mysore paintings, the artist has the flexibility to use a wider spectrum of colours and need not necessarily restrict the painting to the deep primary colours. Besides in the traditional Mysore School the colours are more flat, while in the Mysore school the use of light and shade effect is more predominant.

While it is apparent that during the last two decades a lot of work has been done to revive the Mysore School, the Mysore School still needs attention. Currently there are a very few artists and art groups who are engaged in this school. It would be the endeavor of Raasi Art Foundation to revive this art through research, education, training and promotion. The Raasi Art Gallery houses some of the finest piece sof Mysore paintings. These works are executed b well-trained and talented artists and art groups.
news NRIOL 25years Celebration

NRIOL.COM, the premier online community since 1997 for the Indian immigrant community provides a range of resourceful services for immigrants and visitors in America.

Contact our customer service team

Estd. 1997 © Copyright NRI Online Pvt. Ltd. All rights reserved worldwide.

Famous Paintings x