Mukul Dey


Mukul Dey was an artist, who specialized in dry-point etching. He studied at Rabindranath Tagore's school at Santiniketan. From 1911, his paintings appeared in monthly magazines in Calcutta and then in 1913-14, the Indian Society of Oriental Art sent his paintings to Paris, London and other European cities for exhibition with the works of other students of Abanindranath Tagore. W. W. Pearson inspired Dey to work with dry point by giving him copper plates to scratch with a steel pointed needle and then sent these plates to London to be printed. In 1916, Dey accompanied Rabindranath Tagore on his tour of Japan and the USA. In 1919, Dey went to the Ajanta and Bagh caves; his experiences were published in My Pilgrimages to Ajanta and Bagh.

In 1920, Dey went to London, and was received by his old friend W. W. Pearson. Dey worked in Muirhead Bone's studio until he joined the Slade School of Art in London. In his holidays he worked in the King Alfred co-educational school in North London. In 1922, Dey was the first Indian to receive the Diploma in Mural Painting from Royal College of Art. Dey regularly exhibited in London, and met many prominent British figures in the art and literary world such as Thomas Sturge Moore, Edwin Lutyens, Laurence Binyon and Selwyn Image. His work was exhibited in the Royal Academy in London in 1923 and he decorated a portion of the Indian Pavilion at the Wembley British Empire Exhibition in 1924.

In 1927, Dey returned to India. In 1928, he became the first Indian Principal of the Government School of Art and Craft in Calcutta, and remained in that post until 1943. He continued to tour his work and remain an influential figure in India until his death in 1989.

Published works: 

Twelve Portraits, introduction by Sir John G. Woodroffe (Calcutta: Amal Home, 1917) 

My Pilgrimages to Ajanta and Bagh introduction by Laurence Binyon (London: Thornton Butterworth, 1925),

Fifteen Drypoints, interpreted in verse by Harindranath Chattopadhyaya (Calcutta: Mukul Dey, 1939)

Date of birth: 
23 Jul 1895

Thomas Arnold, Herbert Baker, Laurence Binyon, Sir Muirhead Bone, Harindranath Chattopadhyaya, E. M. Forster, M. K. Gandhi, E. B. Havell, Dr Henry Lamb, Edwin Lutyens, Florence Mills, Thomas Sturge-Moore, W. W. Pearson, William Rothenstein, Abanindranath Tagore, Rabindranath Tagore, Professor Henry Tonks, Sarada Charan Ukil, Ranada Ukil, John Woodroffe.

Contributions to periodicals: 

Modern Review



The Sunday Times, 20 May 1923

The Times, 5 February 1924, 4 October 1927

Daily Mail, 13 February 1924, 12 April 1924

Secondary works: 

Mitter, Partha, Art and Nationalism in Colonial India, 1850-1922 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994)

Mitter, Partha, The Triumph of Modernism: India's Artists and the Avant-Garde, 1922-1927 (London: Reaktion, 2007)

Archive source: 

Mukul Dey Archives, Santiniketan: www.chitralekha.org

Sketch of Francis Younghusband by Mukul Dey, Mss Eur F197/677, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Duplicate Passport, IOR/L/PJ/11/2/46, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Material relating to 1960 exhibition held by Royal India, Pakistan and Ceylon Society, Mss Eur F147/100, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Collection, Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Collection, National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi

Collection, Indian Museum, Kolkata

Involved in events: 
City of birth: 
Sridharkhola, Dacca
Country of birth: 
Current name country of birth: 


Slade School of Art London, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom
51° 31' 24.5028" N, 0° 8' 3.4116" W
Royal College of Art South Kensington, SW7 2EU
United Kingdom
51° 29' 38.4" N, 0° 10' 26.1192" W
King Alfred School
North End Road
Golders Green, NW11 7HY
United Kingdom
51° 34' 14.3544" N, 0° 11' 20.5152" W
12 Relton Mews
Knightsbridge, SW7 1ET
United Kingdom
51° 29' 56.5152" N, 0° 9' 58.4316" W
Date of death: 
01 Jan 1989
Precise date of death unknown: 
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1920
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 


Tags for Making Britain: 
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