Who was the very first Indian director of Mumbai’s JJ School of Art? An artist himself, MV Dhurandhar

Home » Who was the very first Indian director of Mumbai’s JJ School of Art? An artist himself, MV Dhurandhar

March 18, On This Day

MV Dhurandhar, Self-portrait, c. 1928 | Wikipedia

An Indian painter and postcard artist from the British colonial era, Mahadev Vishwanath or MV Dhurandhar was born in Kolhapur on March 18, 1867. He is known as the one of most popular academic Indian artists.
He is one of the prominent faculty of the prestigious JJ School of Art in Mumbai — and the very first Indian director of the institute.
His most popular paintings revolve around delicate illustrations of average colonial-era women; he also enjoyed documenting the city of Bombay and its people, as well as painting parables from Hindu mythology and the Omar Khayyam series.

Radha and Krishna by MV Dhurandhar | Wikipedia
Sheshashayi – Laxminarayan by MV Dhurandhar | Wikipedia

Dhurandhar is said to have made more than 5,000 paintings and 50,000 illustrations, including some that were turned into lithographic prints; he also made religious illustrations published by the Ravi Varma Press.
In 1926, he was commissioned by the ruler of Aundh State, Maharaja Bhawanrao Pantpratinidhi to make paintings on the life of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

Shivaji Maharaj and Baji Prabhu at Pawan Khind by MV Dhurandhar | Wikipedia

Dhurandhar is said to have straddled the fine balance between academic realism and popular commercial art.
Rao Bahadur was a title bestowed on him by the British government. Three years after this, he sought retirement in 1931. He passed away in 1944 in Mumbai, leaving a vast legacy.

A 1927 depiction of Tarabai in battle by MV Dhurandhar | Wikipedia

Royal family palaces and maharaja retreats across India still own several of his works.
His daughter Ambika Dhurandhar is cited as India’s first art-school trained woman artist, and was a visual artist of her own standing in later years, particularly fluent in beautiful landscapes.

Ambika Dhurandhar (seated right) with father M. V. Dhurandhar, mother Gangubai and nephew Kanu | Majhi Smaranchitre – Majestic Publishing House | Via The Heritage Lab