Sheth Raoji Naranji

Sheth Raoji Naranji
Kutchi Philanthropist from Mumbai

by Unknown artist
The Enlargephoto & Co., Fort, Mumbai
circa 1930

Oil on canvas
30.3 x 24 in. (77 x 61 cm.)

Painted photographs were becoming the norm of the day during the pre-independence era. A merging of the art of portrait painting and the photographic tradition took place so seamlessly that it marks a crucial chapter in the history of Indian Art. Artists initially used photographic images as a reference to make portraits. With advancement in photography, commercial studios opened up all across the country offering instant, real and fast portraits. They also started services to retouch portraits or add colour to black and white or sepia images. Local artists were looking for work due to loss of patronage and decline of princely states.

This portrait was painted by an artist and carries the seal of the studio rather than the painters sign. Such was the time that studios hired local artists to paint on photographs and added the touch of an oil portrait on it. The tradition of hand-colouring disappeared in the later years due to the invention of colour and digital photography. No detail on Raoji Naranji could be gathered, however he might have been a wealthy merchant living in Mumbai.