Srimani, Shayamacharan

Srimani, Shayamacharan (d. 1875) artist and first Bengali art critic of Indian art. He delivered scholarly lectures on Indian art and published articles on art in Indian dailies and journals. He was one of the early students of Henry Hover Lock, director of the Government school of Art and Craft, Calcutta. Adept at woodcut, lithography and geometric form of drawing, he, though still a student, was appointed by Lock as a teacher of geometric art in his school in 1864. Thus he became a student-cum-teacher.

When Nabagopal Mitra started his art school in 1872 Shayamacharan joined that school as a teacher of Fine Art and Sculpture with the permission of Lock. As a teacher he supervised the exhibition of the hindu mela arranged by Nabagopal Mitra and other nationalist leaders.

Shayamacharan reached the pinnacle of fame when his scholarly discourse entitled Sukumar Shilper Utpatti-o-Arya Jatir Shilpa Chaturi (origin of Fine Art and the skill of the Aryans) was published in 1874. Through this book, he urged the Indian artists not to blindly follow Western art and gave a clarion call to devote themselves to the ideals of Indian art. The book was appreciated in almost all contemporary Indian dailies and journals. Both bankimchandra chattopadhyay and abanindranath tagore highly acclaimed the book. Abanindranath Tagore, while delivering a lecture at a seminar in the art school, lauded this great art critic of Benagl who inspired him in his aesthetic endeavours. Besides being an artist and art critic Shayamacharan Srimani earned fame for his nationalistic spirit. [Najma Khan Majlis]