Bequest of James Parmelee 1940.835
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Catalogue raisonné: Dodgson (Guichard) 371
Poet laureate and first Asian recipient of the Nobel
Prize in literature, Tagore (1861–1941) was a leader
of the nonviolent movement to free India from
British rule. The artist has rendered Tagore’s face
with penetrating realism and luxurious textures. In
contrast, his body is left as a sketch, giving him an
ethereal quality; his hand positions are evocative
of the mudras, or symbolic gestures, of Indian holy
men or divinities.
This portrait was probably made during Tagore’s
1920 visit to London from India to seek support
for his new university in Bengal. For Tagore,
however, the trip was overshadowed by his
observation of British indifference to the 1919
massacre of hundreds of unarmed Indians in the
Punjab by colonial forces. Tagore relinquished his
knighthood and redoubled his efforts to lead India
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