Indian Impressionists

Indian Impressionists | Indian Impressionist Paintings

Written by Ishita Sahni

Impressionism, the movement got its name when a critic faulted Claude Monet’s painting “Impression, Sunrise” of being a sketch or “Impression” and not a finished painting. Up until the Impressionists, history had been the accepted source of subject matter for paintings, but impressionists looked instead to the many subjects in life around them.

Classic Impressionist paintings are easy to spot with prevalent use of moving light and its reflection, quickly painted surfaces or appearance of quickly painted surfaces with dots, dashes, commas and other short brushstrokes.

Modern life is the subject matter for most of the works and unmixed colours that give the appearance of spontaneity and vitality.


Jehangir Sabavala

Sabavala worked most often in oils, creating landscapes, seascapes and cityscapes that have a mystique, which is typical of impressionism. His art is a mixture of academic, impressionist and cubist textures. In his work Of Tree and Trees he merges the sky, landscape, tress and people in a way to give the canvas an illusory sense of depth that reveals his mastery over light, color and textures.


Jehangir Sabavala, Of Tree and Trees, 1978, oil on canvas, 33.5 x 55”

Amrita Sher-Gil

Her oil paintings combine her European education, especially her Post-impressionist style with the colours of Mughal and Pahari miniatures and the Buddhist cave paintings at Ajanta. Her work painted in the European academic tradition underwent change once she returned to India when she turned her gaze to Indian Subject. She painted the inner world of women, depicting them in countless moods and forms.

Amrita Sher-Gil, Ancient Story Teller, 1940, oil on canvas, 24 x 29.92”

Anjolie Ela Menon

In her early student days, flat areas of thick bright color dominated her work with sharp outlines owing a certain allegiance with the impressionists. She paints ordinary, everyday objects to suggest emotions, moods and personal links to people creating haunting, evocative images.

Anjolie Ela Menon, Untitled, 2006, oil on masonite board, 12 x 8 in

Manu Parekh

One of the most celebrated Artists in the history of Indian Modern Art, his work is Synonymous with the holy Indian city of Benaras- known to never paint in Situ. He prefers to let his impressions of the city surround him and get internalized before he later tries to recreate them.

Manu Parekh, Benaras Landscape, 1994, oil on canvas, 48″ x 72″

F.N. Souza

A founding member of the Progressive Artists movement, his repertoire of subjects covers still lifes, nudes, landscapes and icons of Christianity. In his work he uses line with economy while still managing to capture fine details, or he uses a excess of crosshatched strokes that make up the overall structure of his subject. His paintings express defiance and impatience with convention and with the banality of everyday life.

FN Souza, Spain, 1959, oil on board, 24 x 48”
FN Souza, Townscape, 1963, oil on canvas, 27 x 22”

Paresh Maity

Often referred to as the ‘romantic’ painter, the play of light is deeply rooted in his impressionist influences, and it plays a crucial part in his work in setting the mood for each piece. His work usually begins with abstract shapes and it gradually develops into something easily identifiable. The co-existence of vibrant colors, stylized art with sound academic technique is trademarks of maity’s productions.

Paresh Maity, Gondolas, 2002, Oil on Canvas, 48 x 48”
Paresh Maity, Venician Odyssey, 2001, Oil on Canvas, 70 x 120”

Gopal Ghosh

A legend in his lifetime, he was known for his clever handling of the medium of watercolors. His appeal is sensory and expressive, almost poetic. Normally small in size, his paintings have a miniature quality, but they point towards the impressionistic. A founding member of the Calcutta Group, his preferred palette included mellow hazy shades broken with patches of sharp color. His careful technique of swift sweeping brushwork in his landscapes was especially admired.

Gopal Ghosh, Village near Mussorie, tempera on paper