This is a memory from Anita Yewale from the Town Hall Museum, Kolhapur. All text and photo credits rest with the author. Photographs have been taken at the Museum by her with permission from the Director, Town Hall Museum, DAM, Government of Maharashtra: her contribution to the ongoing ‘Museum Memories Project’
Two little hidden Gems from my Hometown offering a peek into it’s local history, art tradition, life and culture… A memory so close to my heart!!!
It all started with the preparation for a paper and portfolio for MCIAH (Modern and Contemporary Indian art History) – the Post Graduate diploma at Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum. I was planning on exploring “Portraiture in Princely Kolhapur” which took me on an eventful trip to my hometown Kolhapur. Although I have been visiting Kolhapur annually since my childhood, this visit in April 2013 was an eye-opener to the artistic pursuits and traditions of this industrially rich town.
Kolhapur also referred to as ‘Kalapur’ – the city of art, situated on the banks of river Panchaganga is most famous for its Mahalaxmi temple. A journey through its past reveals that Kolhapur has lived through many periods of history; from the Roman trade and commerce links during the Satavahana period to the Hindu, the Muslim, the Maratha aristocracy and the British Regime.
Pioneered by Abalal Rehman, a notable tradition of art existed in Kolhapur from the 1850’s which was later carried forward by artists like Dattoba Dalvi, Baburao Painter and Madhavrao Dhurandhar. Under the generous patronage of Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj, Kolhapur saw the Golden era of Art between 1885 – 1910.
The Town Hall Museum
Built in 1872 under the supervision of British architect Charles Mant in the Neo Gothic style of architecture, the town Hall was converted into a museum in 1945-46. Originally It housed a collection of artifacts excavated from the Brahmapuri hills belonging to the Satvahana period and the later Shilhara – Bahamani periods. Later paintings of renowned local artists were added to the collection.
Excavated from Brahmapuri, this statuette of the Greek God of Sea – Poseidon, was probably a part of the personal treasure of a seafaring trader and his family.
This statuette was exhibited in the ‘India And The World’ exhibition at CSMVS in 2017-2018. It is a remnant of the healthy trade relation that Maharashtra enjoyed with the Roman empire through the ports of Sopara, Chaul and Kalyan – long before the advent of Portuguese and British.
Royal portrait of Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj
Commissioned by Rajaram Maharaj , this painting was excecuted by Dattoba Dalvi in the British academic Realism style. He was closely associated with Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj and was also the court painter. The painting is a very modest, somber and aesthetically less ostentatious representation of the royal, in acquiesce of the Maratha culture which was not given to luxury and lavishness.
Going to the Temple
A life size painting by Baburao Painter, who besides being a self-taught artist, was a sculptor and film maker of repute, having founded the Maharashtra Film Company in Kolhapur in 1918. Sensuous beautiful women figures in everyday scenes painted in somber hues with photographic details dominated his canvases.
Ravindra Mistry, the son of Baburao Painter, loved to work from life and painted his portraits using a bright and colourful palette in tune with his personality.
Noted Marathi actor of yesteryears and a passionate water colour artist, Chandrakant Mandare established the Chandrakant Mandare Art Gallery at his residence in Kolhapur by generously donating the space and his works to the Archaeological department of Government of Maharashtra. It is a home to his 350 – 400 paintings besides some film paraphernalia.
Chandrakant Mandare started out as a poster painting apprentice at Baburao Painter’s Film Company. Inspired by the beautiful nature in and around the city, he soon mastered the art of painting landscapes in the water colour tradition of Kolhapur and Maharashtra. He pursued painting as a hobby throughout his life and did a lot of on the spot outdoor paintings between breaks during his film shootings. Some of his popular works depict Gurhals (a place where jaggery is made from sugarcane), Gulmohar trees and Panhala fort.
This small yet significant painting done in oil by Abalal Rehman ,was a gift to Chandrakant Mandare. Situated on the banks of Rankala lake and steeped in history, Sandhyamath is a scenic spot and an artists haven.
VarnikaDesigns initiated the ‘Museum Memories Project’ on April 15, 2020. In this Oral History documentation project, individuals are requested to send in memories of a museum they have visited anywhere in the world in their lifetime (more than 1 entry will be required for multiple museums). These memories could be in the form of max 10 photographs, doodles, sketches, poetry, illustrations, along with a write up.