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Illustration of an Indian woman holding a flower
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Tissarakshita, Queen of Asoka

29 Dec 1911

RCIN 452415

The artist Abanindranath Tagore (1871–1951) pioneered the Bengal School, the first nationalist art movement in India. His works draw upon Indian history and earlier painting traditions in direct resistance to the Western academic styles taught in India at the time. A note in his hand on the back of the painting explains the subject matter: ‘King Asoka was extremely fond of The Bodhi Tree. His queen Tissarakshita became jealous of the sacred tree and in a fit of anger destroys it.’

Queen Mary admired this painting in an exhibition of the Indian Society of Oriental Art in Calcutta in 1911, shortly after the Delhi Durbar. Lady Hardinge, the Vicereine, presented it to her as a gift before her departure. Queen Mary later lent the work to Indian Society of Oriental Art’s exhibition in Paris in 1914, the first exhibition of Indian Modern Art in Europe.

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