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Pictures: The private canvas of Baburao Painter


The visionary artist of the early days of Indian cinema, Baburao Painter, was instrumental in shaping and influencing many in the industry. On his 63rd death anniversary today (16 January), we share some of his personal oil paintings that are displayed across the country.

Sonal Pandya

Baburao Painter, a former assistant to Dadasaheb Phalke, was a native of Kolhapur, Maharashtra who first started the Maharashtra Film Company in 1916. Painter, born Baburao Krishnarao Mestry, worked in the stenographic method on films. He drew the costumes, movements, screen, sets and the characters. Years later, Satyajit Ray did the same on Pather Panchali.

Painter’s techniques were revolutionary at the time in Indian cinema; his sets were multi-dimensional instead of flat 2D backgrounds. His methods for promoting a film were unique; he was the first to create a program booklet — detailing the particulars of the film. In 1920, he painted a poster for Vatsala Haran, thus becoming the first Indian to do so. By 1921, he was the first to use artificial lights (created by the illumination of gunpowder explosion) Sinhagad (1921).

His last name was derived by his exceptional artwork. When he gave up films with the advent of the talkies, he returned to his first love — painting and artwork. A self-taught artist, Painter excelled at oil painting throughout his career.

Baburao painting 'Laxmi'

Below are eight such oil paintings that are displayed across museums and private collections across India:

Datta (Dattatreya) – Date 1926
Collection: Shri Bhavani Museum, Aundh (Maharashtra)

Jalavahini or To The Temple – Date not mentioned
Collection: Govt. Museum, Kolhapur (Maharashtra)

Laxmi – Date not mentioned
Collection: Shri ML Dahanukar

On The River-Bank – Date not mentioned
Collection: Shri Shashikant Solankurkar

Ranga-Panchami – Date not mentioned
Collection: Shri Bhavani Museum, Aundh (Maharashtra)

Roopagarvita – Date not mentioned
(A woman admiring her beautiful face reflected in the brass plate)
Collection: Shri Shashikant Solankurkar

Vata-Pooja – Date not mentioned
Collection: Shri Bhavani Museum, Aundh (Maharashtra)

Vishva-Mohini – Date not mentioned
Collection: Shri Bhavani Museum, Aundh (Maharashtra)