Millennium Post

CU initiates restoration of historical oil paintings in its collection

Kolkata: The Calcutta University (CU) has taken up restoration of all the oil paintings in its collection which have immense historical value. The university that dates back to its foundation on January 24, 1857, aims to uphold its tradition and heritage through this endeavour.

"The oil paintings were badly in need of restoration. Some of them were on the wall at the Senate while some others were lying dumped in a room beside the Senate Hall. Most of the figures in the paintings were found to be beyond recognition. We approached the state Heritage Commission and met its chairman Shuvaprasanna and urged him to the needful. He saw the paintings and agreed," said Sonali Chakravarti Banerjee, the Vice-Chancellor of CU.

Some of the rare and priced paintings among the 21 that are witnessing a facelift includes the portrait of Womesh Chunder Bonnerjee by Shashi Kumar Hesh. "Only two portraits by Hesh are found in India and one of them is in our collection," said a senior CU official. The painting of Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee done by Atul Basu and a famous painting by G P Gangopadhyay that was also lying in utter neglect is being restored.

"Most of the oil paintings of famous people that are in the collection of the university have been associated with it some time or the other. The restoration of oil paintings is not seriously taken up in present times. But Banerjee after taking over as V-C realised the importance of proper preservation of these valuable paintings," said Shuvaprasanna.

According to him, the only university in the state that has such a treasured collection is CU.

The students of Arts Acre, an institution founded by Shuvaprasanna to nurture young talents in visual arts is doing the uphill task of restoration. They have been provided with a room adjacent to the Senate Hall by the university itself for doing the work. The work had started six months back and it will take another four months to complete. Different modern techniques are being used to give the best possible look to the oil paintings. Once it is complete, it will be in good condition for at least 50 years.

"The work for the revival of the Senate Hall and restoration of the paintings are going on side-by-side which is an evidence of the university's seriousness in preserving its history and heritage," he maintained.

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