News & events > Rabindranath Tagore: Poet and Painter
11 Dec 2011 - 04 Mar 2012

Rabindranath Tagore: Poet and Painter

Coloured ink on paper, c.1929-30, Coll. Rabindra Bhavana
 The year 2011 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), who is best known as a poet and the first non-European writer to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. Various cultural institutions around the world have organised or will be organising programmes to celebrate this. In December, the Victoria and Albert Museum will showcase a display of about 50 Tagore's paintings from  1928 to 1939, which have never been displayed outside India.
Aside from being a poet, Tagore was a painter, social reformer, educator, philosopher and a composer who wrote the national anthems for both India and Pakistan. In India, he is regarded as a national figure.  While Tagore only took to painting in his sixties, he nevertheless produced thousands of works and was the first Indian artist to exhibit in Europe, Russia and the United States. His artistic style was to inspire many modern Indian artists. Learn more about Tagore: In the display at the Victoria and Albert Museum, the works will be arranged around four themes of his oeuvre - imaginative works, usually focusing on animals or imaginary creatures; human figures; portraits produced during the 1930s and landscapes. This display is curated by Professor Raman Siva Kumar and organised in collaboration with the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, with the support of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. The paintings are on loan to the V&A from the Visva-Bharati University and the National Gallery of Modern Art.
In Tagore’s own words, “We who have traded in lyrics should know that these will not find acceptance in another time. This is inevitable. So I often think that painting has a deathless quality”
For more on the V&A exhibition: There is also a Tagore exhibition at the National Museum of Korea titled : Rabindranath Tagore – The Last Harvest, open till 27 November 2011. For more information: