Asitkumar Haldar (1890-1964)

Asitkumar Haldar was born in Jorasanko, a grand-nephew of Rabindranath. From an early age he showed an aptitude for drawing and joined the Government Art School in Calcutta when he was still a young boy in 1906. The Indian Society in London sponsored a visit to the Ajanta Caves for the purpose of copying the frescoes there; Asitkumar and a number of other students, under the guidance of Mrs Herringham, went there twice.

For the period 1911 to 1915, he was an art teacher at the Santiniketan Vidyalaya. After spending a few years copying cave paintings and teaching at the Government Art College, he returned to Santiniketan. It was during this period, 1919 to 1921, that Kala Bhavana was founded and he was in charge of it. During his stay in Santiniketan he acted in most of the plays by Rabindranath that were staged. He designed sets and introduced alpana patterns as a form of decoration. He also illustrated a limited edition of Gitanjali.

After spending a short while in England with Pearson in 1923, he returned to India to join the Maharaja of Jaipur Art School. In 1925, he joined the Government Art College in Lucknow and later became its Principal. His books on art, translation of Sanskrit classics, his poems, songs and essays bear evidence of his versatility. He was the first Indian to be elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, London. In his book Ravitirthe he has acknowledged his debt to Rabindranath Tagore and Santiniketan in helping to establish him as an artist.