Man and Elephant
© Estate of Jamini Roy

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Man and Elephant 1930s
The exact date of this painting is unknown, as many works by Roy were mass produced in a studio workshop. For Hindus, elephants are symbols of wealth and in agricultural communities in India, the motif of an elephant and rider is used to mark a birth or marriage or to honour the Goddess Lakshmi. Bengali art has affinities with modern art, in that it eliminates all inessential elements and simplifies colour and form. Traditional folk art has been highly influential on many twentieth-century artists, such as Jean Dubuffet, Picasso and the Surrealists. Roy’s work became widely known after the Second World War, due to the westerners who spent time in Calcutta during the war. Like the Surrealists, Roy strived to approach painting with the innocence and simplicity of a child.

Glossary Open

Folk art

The art of largely untrained artists.


A literary and artistic movement founded by the poet André Breton in 1924. Many of the associated artists, such as Max Ernst and Jean Arp, had previously been involved with Dadaism. The movement sought to challenge conventions through the exploration of the subconscious mind, invoking the power of dreams and elements of chance. Cultural hierarchies were challenged by the combination of diverse elements in collages and sculptural assemblages. The movement is also notable for the collaborations between artists and writers evident in the Surrealists' many publications.

Folk art, Surrealism


  • Acc. No. GMA 4698
  • Medium Watercolour on paper
  • Size (framed: 30.50 x 30.50 cm)
  • Credit Presented by Mary Tara Marshall 2003