Untitled, Subhadra Anandkar
Gouache on card

In prominence in this post-Independence painting is the popular Indian ritual of a baby’s bath ritual, featuring in the foreground the maalish or massage with oil. The two women in front appear to be the protagonists with a baby between them: one oiling his hair, the other massaging his body. This commonplace scene seems to take place in a rural courtyard, with other women going about their chores or catching up on news. The foliage is stylised, along with the drapes of the womens’ nine yard sarees, the latter so characteristic of rural living. It was part of a larger cache of 43 exquisite small-format gouache works, by those associated with the J.J. School in the early 20th century. These works offer valuable insights into the School’s formative period as well as the beginnings of Indian modernism.