A painting by Rabindranath Tagore would be a prized treasure for its owner and kept under immense care. But some of the Nobel laureate’s works are lying unrecognized and neglected in Nepal.
Few paintings of Tagore are hanging in government offices in Kathmandu without anyone knowing their worth or taking care to preserve and protect them.
“I have seen some of Tagore’s work hanging in old palaces of the Ranas that have been turned into government offices,” said Sangeeta Thapa, founder of the popular Siddhartha Art Gallery in Kathmandu.
The Ranas, who ruled as hereditary prime ministers of Nepal for over a century, were great collectors of art and had bought many paintings of the Bengal Masters including Tagore.
“The art scene here in those times was not very happening and the Ranas used to visit Kolkata to buy these paintings that they used to adorn the walls of their palaces,” said Sangeeta.
According to her there are some four-five of Tagore’s paintings in Nepal. While some are still in private collections, the ones that are in public offices are suffering neglect and may get damaged.
“I have seen these paintings myself and they are not in good shape. Art is still not valued very highly in Nepal and given due protection. If I disclose the places where they are hanging, they could be stolen,” she said.
Sangeeta feels that it is a blessing in disguise that nobody knows about Tagore’s paintings. But the lack of maintenance and threat posed to these invaluable works is what worries her.
“If they were in museums, I wouldn’t have worried,” she said while adding that the Tagore paintings in private hands are safe as their owners are maintaining them well and don’t intend to sell them.