It was in the 16th century during the supremacy of the Marathas that this school of painting originated in Thanjavur or Tanjore. It had a restricted production and existed from 17th to 19th Century. Today, a few dedicated artists mostly based in Tamil Nadu, India, keep this tradition alive.
Unlike other works of arts Tanjore paintings follow certain pattern. A typical Tanjore painting would consist of a deity, the main figure, with almond shaped eyes and a well-rounded body. There will be an enclosed space formed by means of curtains, an arch, etc to house this figure. A gem-set or glided technique is used in this painting. To highlight certain aspects of the painting like dresses, ornaments, etc sparkling stones and gold leaves are used.
The origin of Tanjore painting can be traced back to the 16th century during the Nayak and the Maratha rule. It is an immortal art because even after so many decades its popularity has not declined. In fact, it is even more popular today and is bought by people to decorate their modern homes and offices. Tanjore paintings were considered as the divine forms of expressions of adoration and love for God since they were meant for palaces and temples and were also supposed to express beauty and truth. Most of the olden day painters who kept this beautiful form of art alive were totally devoted artists from Tamil Nadu. They managed to bring about new innovations into it without taking way the basic essence from it or distorting it.
Framed paintings of Child Krishna in vibrant colours and decorated with glitzy gold foils and embedded pieces of semi-precious stones or glass beads are found in almost every traditional as well as modern Tamil home.
Tanjore paintings are quite commonplace in any typical South India home. Although many modern versions of these traditional paintings are seen these days in art galleries, they are still rooted in tradition. Because when it comes to Tanjore paintings creativity is a tradition. You might find a few changes in the style but most of the traditions remain unchanged. This is because this unique art does not facilitate change or individual innovation unlike other Indian paintings.
Tanjore (or Thanjavoor or Thanjavur) painting is an ancient and unique art form of India with a very rich heritage. It originated in Tanjore, around 300 kms from Chennai. The first known paintings are around 40,000 years old. Thanjavur was the capital city of the Chola dynasty, and the art flourished here, and hence the name. The Chola rulers were not only great warriors but were also great patrons of arts and builders of magnificent temples. This highly specialised form of art flourished against this setting with its typically fine-looking decorative relief work.