Jamini Roy was born in Bengal in 1887 into a middle-class family of land-owners. When he was sixteen he was sent to study at the Government School of Art in Calcutta. He was taught to paint in the prevailing academic tradition drawing Classical nudes and painting in oils and in 1908 he received his Diploma in Fine Art.
However, he soon realised that he needed to draw inspiration, not from Western traditions, but from his own culture, and so he looked to the living folk and tribal art for inspiration. He was most influenced by the Kaiighat Pat, with its bold sweeping brush-strokes. He moved away from his earlier impressionist landscapes and portraits and between 1921 and 1924 began his first period of experimentation with the Santhal dance as his starting point. His new style was both a reaction against the Bengal School and the Western tradition. His underlying quest was threefold to capture the essence of simplicity embodied in the life of the folk people; to make art accessible to a wider section of people; and to give Indian art its own identity. He was awarded the Padma Bhusan in 1955.
His work has been exhibited extensively in international exhibitions and can be found in many private and public collections such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. He spent most of his life living and working in Calcutta.
Jamini Roy died in 1972.