A classical artform from southern India, Thanjavur painting – also known as Tanjore painting – is a celebration of the region’s rich artistic tradition, named after the town of Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu, India. Tanjore paintings are known for their extravagant depictions of deities using vibrant colours and gaudy embellishments, especially gold foil.
Though the artform has undergone various changes over the years, it continues to be popular with lovers of art even today, and inspires many artists with its truly Indian style.
Thanjavur or Tanjore paintings are characterised by rich and vivid colors, simple iconic composition, glittering gold foils overlaid on delicate but extensive gesso work and inlay of glass beads and pieces or very rarely precious and semi-precious gems. In Thanjavur paintings one can see the influence of Deccani, Vijayanagar, Maratha and even European or Company styles of painting. Essentially serving as devotional icons, the subjects of most paintings are Hindu gods, goddesses, and saints. Episodes from Hindu Puranas, Sthala-puranas and other religious texts were visualised, sketched or traced and painted with the main figure or figures placed in the central section of the picture (mostly within an architecturally delineated space such as a mantapa or prabhavali) surrounded by several subsidiary figures, themes and subjects. There are also many instances when Jain, Sikh, Muslim, other religious and even secular subjects were depicted in Tanjore paintings.