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Picture of Rudi von Leyden’ s Bust by Sadanand K. Bakre

  • Kind of Object:
  • Name:

    Picture of Rudi von Leyden’ s Bust by Sadanand K. Bakre

    Word Count: 11

  • Creator (Person):
    Rudolf von Leyden
  • Year Start:
  • Year End:
  • Material:

    Greetings Card: Photograph on Paper
    Sculpture: Clay/Plaster 1949; Bronze 1950

  • Known addresses in Metromod cities:

    Jaiji Mansion, Merewether Road, Colaba, Bombay (now Mumbai).

  • City:
    Mumbai (IN)
  • Introduction:

    The picture of the previously lost and recently located sculpture by Sadanand K. Bakre reflects the relationship between the artist Bakre and the art critic Rudi von Leyden.

    Word Count: 28

  • Content:

    “With thinker’s frown the wrinkled brow
    harbours but thought elect,
    the tired head seeks rest, and how
    the scalp receding heightens the effect.

    Not cast in bronze, claiming cerulean fame,
    not carved in stone posterity to master –
    his friends themselves will hestitate to name
    a thing revealed. It´s only clay and plaster.” (Leyden, card)

    In 1949, Rudi von Leyden printed this poem on a personal greetings card that featured a photograph of a bust of himself, the Head by S.K. Bakre. To convey his personal good wishes he had chosen a sculpture in the making, of clay and plaster, a rough sculpture, an unbaked clay model instead of a bronze or stone version.
    In July 1949, the first exhibition of the Progressive Artists’ Group (PAG) opened in the salon of the Bombay Art Society. Leyden was there and wrote one of his acclaimed reviews. He had followed the six young featured artists over the years, cycling to the openings of their exhibitions and back to The Times of India to have his critique printed in the next day’s issue. Leyden’s consistency in reporting and reviewing generated a historical momentum for the young artists. He reminded his readers “that those who have followed the works of these artists over the past years would know of the struggle, the experiments, the trials that lie behind the considerable achievement which this exhibition represented.” (Leyden 1949, 8). And he warned them, “Those who go to exhibitions to look for pretty pictures will be, on the whole, disappointed. Those, who want painting to be the expression of the deeper emotions and strivings of a generation, will be satisfied with the progressive offering of these artists” (ibid).
    Born into a business family in Baroda, sculptor and painter Bakre attended the Sir J.J. School of Arts in Bombay, obtaining a degree in sculpture in 1944. In protest against the election committee of the Bombay Art Society, he founded the Progressive Artists’ Group together with K.H. Ara, H.A. Gade, F.N. Souza, S.H. Raza and M.F. Husain in December 1947, to rebel against conventions, traditions and formalities in art. Also as an artist, Bakre was a rebel, always on the lookout for new materials, methods, forms of expression and innovative sculpting techniques. Over the years his development as a painter and sculptor followed a path from academic realism to abstraction. Of his exhibits at the 1949 exhibition, Leyden wrote: “Sculptor Bakre also joins in the quest for expression through formal values. His small pieces of sculpture in plaster and wood are most successful and his portrait of a high-minded journalist troubled with wicked thoughts is good in its summary rendering. How much more true is such portrait than the ‘life like’ likeness of the commercial bust maker.”
    Is Leyden writing about the bust of himself? Or the “Portrait of T.D.”? About which the art critic Chatterjee commented, “this is a very courageously executed head, with a good deal of simplicity and directness, which indicate his considerable knowledge of form and technical ability” (Chatterji 1949, 10). Among the busts Bakre carved were those of several prominent members of the Bombay art community: such as the plaster bust of philanthropist and industrialist Sir Cowasji Jehangir, founder of the Jehangir Art Gallery; the bust of his PAG art comrade Ara; and the bust of Wayne Hartwell, who was with the United States Information Service in Bombay at the time and had offered Bakre a place to live and work in his own apartment. Bakre symbolically called Hartwell’s bust The Consulate (see Ganguly n.d. for photo of bust).
    The greetings card simply refers to the bust of Leyden as Head and the later bronze sculpture in the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) also bears the name Head Study. The NGMA collection does not list any Bakre artwork on its online registry, nor has it responded to requests over the years. Fortunately, an art lover documented his walk through the gallery in 2018 and posted the photos on his online blog (Bhatia 2018).
    How did the sculpture get to Delhi? In the 1950s, the state art institutions were centralised in Delhi. Leyden was a member of the selection and evaluation committee for the First National Art Exhibition, which took place in Delhi in 1955 and from which the NGMA emerged. However, we do not know who sold or donated to the museum the prestigious bronze sculpture made in 1950.
    All we know is that Leyden considered the plaster/clay model of Bakre’s bust to be valuable, the raw model that may have been a sculpture for making a bronze, since the plaster/clay model was lost. Leyden also considered valuable the young searching artists who experimented with forms, methods, materials, techniques and forms of expression. The advertising specialist Leyden put the photo of Bakre’s bust in his shop window: his personal greetings card, which he sent to all his friends, business partners and relatives to introduce the young artist to the world.

    Leyden confronted young local artists with modernist movements in Europe and America and introduced them to global art developments in innumerable informal meetings. In this he joined forces with other emigrants such as Walter and Käthe Langhammer, Emanuel Schlesinger, Charles Petras, Hermann Goetz and other art lovers in exile who acted like “tutors” (Bhagwat/Parimoo) to these artists in Bombay. They challenged the young artists and at the same time offered space for reflection, criticism, exhibition, education and self-development in a non-hierarchical way.
    In 1951 Leyden ended his review of Bakre’s exhibitions of plastic works with the following words: “The diversity of Mr. Bakre’s work indicates that he is not yet mature, that he has not yet found the mould in which to cast his best and truly personal creations. But he has accumulated a rich hoard of plastic ideas and knowledge that will stand him in good stead when he does find himself.” (Leyden 1951, 3). With respectful criticism, Leyden encouraged Bakre’s talent; he aligned the young artist to international developments. In the same year Bakre emigrated to London.

    Word Count: 1010

  • Signature Image:
    Bakre’s clay bust featured on Leyden’s greetings card, 1949 (© Private Archive James von Leyden, Lewes. All Rights Reserved).
  • Media:
    Press clipping with historic photo of young Bakre working on the clay bust while Leyden sits as a model, late 1940s (Maddox, Georgina. “In Retrospect.” Indian Express, 8 November 2002, p. 8. © Indian Express. Reprinted in Singh 2013, 276; Image courtesy: Delhi Art Gallery).
    Press clipping from a Marathi Newspaper showing Bakre’s bust of Leyden, 1997 (Reprinted in Singh 2013, 276; Image courtesy: Delhi Art Gallery).
    S.K. Bakre, Head, 1950, Bronze. Exhibited at the National Gallery of Modern Art, 2018 (© Creative Commons, Photo: Ashok Bhatia 2018).
  • Bibliography (selected):

    Bhagwat, Nalini. “Life and Art of Sadanand Bakre. Feature.” art etc. news & views, January 2012, Accessed 31 March 2021.

    Bhagwat, Nalini, and Ratan Parimoo. “Progressive Artists Group of Bombay: An Overview. The Spirit of Late 1940s and Early 1950s.” art etc. news & views, January 2012, Accessed 31 March 2021.

    Bhatia, Ashok. “A walk through the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi, India: Part 3 of 3.” 10 May 2018, ASHOKBHATIA: Of Management, Wodehouse, Movies and things in general!, Accessed 5 April 2021.

    Chatterji, R. “Two Art Exhibitions in Bombay.” The Times of India, 10 July 1949, p. 10.

    Continuum: Progressive Artists’ Group, edited by Kishore Singh, exh. cat. Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi, 2011.

    Franz, Margit. “Exile meets Avantgarde: ExilantInnen-Kunstnetzwerke in Bombay.” Going East – Going South. Österreichisches Exil in Asien und Afrika, edited by Margit Franz and Heimo Halbrainer, CLIO, 2014, pp. 403–431. Academia, Accessed 16 June 2021.

    Franz, Margit. Gateway India. Deutschsprachiges Exil in Indien zwischen britischer Kolonialherrschaft, Maharadschas und Gandhi. CLIO, 2015.

    Franz, Margit. “From Dinner Parties to Galleries: The Langhammer-Leyden-Schlesinger Circle in Bombay – 1940s through the 1950s.” Arrival Cities. Migrating Artists and New Metropolitan Topographies in the 20th Century, edited by Burcu Dogramaci et al., Leuven University Press, 2020, pp. 73–90. Project Muse, doi: 10.1353/book.77990. Accessed 30 March 2021.

    Ganguly, Nanak. “Progressive Art Group Show: The Moderns. Revisited.” art etc. news & views, February 2012, Accessed 5 April 2021.

    [Leyden, Rudolf von]. “Artists’ Exhibition In Bombay ‘DISTINCT GROUP’.” The Times of India, 9 July 1949, p. 8.

    [Leyden, Rudolf von]. “Bombay Sculptorʼs Exhibition. Mr. Sadanand Bakre.” The Times of India, 5 March 1951, p. 3.

    Maddox, Georgina. “In Retrospect.” Indian Express, 8 November 2002, p. 8.

    Mumbai Modern: Progressive Artistsʼ Group 1947–2013, edited by Kishore Singh, Delhi Art Gallery (DAG), New Delhi, 2013.

    Saffronart. “Remembering Sadanand Bakre.” 2008, Saffronart, Accessed 31 March 2021.

    Singh, Kishore. Sadanand Krishnaji Bakre: A Talent Too Many (DAG, Artists’ Series). Delhi Art Gallery, 2011.

    Word Count: 343

  • Archives and Sources:

    Private Archive James von Leyden, Lewes.
    Private Archive Margit Franz, Sinabelkirchen.

    Word Count: 11

  • Author:
    Margit Franz
  • Depicted people:
    Rudolf von Leyden
  • Metropolis:
  • Entry in process:
  • Margit Franz. "Picture of Rudi von Leyden’ s Bust by Sadanand K. Bakre." METROMOD Archive, 2021,, last modified: 14-09-2021.
  • Rudolf von Leyden
    GeologistAdvertisement SpecialistJournalistArt CriticArt CollectorCartoonist

    The advertisement expert, Rudolf von Leyden, became a major art critic and art historian in Bombay in the 1940s, advocating an urgent need for modernism in art in post-colonial India.

    Word Count: 30

    Rudolf and Nena von Leyden’s farewell party for Francis Newton. Showing all members of the Progressive Artists’ Group. Front from left: PAG = M.F. Husain, S.K. Bakre, H.A. Gade, K.H. Ara, F.N. Souza, S.H. Raza with writer Mulk Raj Anand (1st right front). Back: Käthe Langhammer (with lace collar dress), Rudolf von Leyden with his wife Nena (centre), Walter Langhammer (2nd right), Ebrahim Alkazi (theatre pioneer, 1st right back), Bombay 1949. (© Private Archive James von Leyden, Lewes; All Rights Reserved).
    Letterhead of The Hand. Commercial Art Studio Rudolf von Leyden, 1934 (© Private Archive James von Leyden, Lewes; All Rights Reserved).Advertisement for Agfa by Rudolf von Leyden (© Private Archive James von Leyden, Lewes; All Rights Reserved).Bombay Art Society Committees 1952/53, reprinted in Bombay Art Society 62th Annual Exhibition 1952–53 (at Jehangir Art Gallery), Bombay 1952, n.p. (Photo: Margit Franz 2021).Two modernists meet: Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru (left) and Rudolf von Leyden (right), 1950s. (© Private Archive James von Leyden, Lewes; All Rights Reserved).The article by Rudolf and Nena von Leyden “Ganjifa, the Playing Cards of India” (Marg, vol. 3, no. 4, 1949, p. 36; reproduced with the permission of The Marg Foundation, Mumbai, India).Indian President Zakir Husain (left), President of India, opened the first Triennial for contemporary art on 10 February 1968 in the Lalit Kala Gallery in New Delhi. In the picture on the left with jury member Rudolf von Leyden (right). (© Private Archive James von Leyden, Lewes; All Rights Reserved).
    Emanuel Schlesinger
    Factory OwnerTechnical DirectorArt CollectorArt Critic

    The art collector Schlesinger provided primarily financial aid by creating working opportunities for young artists in post-independence Bombay, and initiated the corporate culture of buying art.

    Word Count: 26

    Opening of the Raza exhibition, first row from left: Unknown, S.H. Raza, Käthe Langhammer, Rudolf von Leyden, second row from left: Walter Langhammer, K.H. Ara, Emanuel Schlesinger, 1948 (Digital Photo Archive Margit Franz, authorized by the late S.H. Raza © Raza archive; All Rights Reserved).
    Letter from Emanuel Schlesinger (Bombay) to S. H. Raza (Paris), September 1956, on official INDON letterhead paper (Reprinted from: Vajpeyi 2013, 96; Image courtesy: The Raza Foundation).Emanuel Schlesinger (far left, seated in the first row) at the opening of the Chemould Gallery at Jehangir Art Gallery Main Hall, September 1963 (Digital Photo Archive Margit Franz © Gandhy Archive, Mumbai; All Rights Reserved).Early Raza painting Street Scene in Bombay from Schlesinger Collection as a calendar print (Photo: Margit Franz 2010; All Rights Reserved).
    Charles Petras
    JournalistDirectorLanguage TeacherWriterTheatre MakerArt ManagerTranslator

    Charles Petras was the founder and director of the international cultural centre Institute of Foreign Languages, an avant-garde theatre director and a very active promoter of international understanding and world peace.

    Word Count: 31

    The only existing portrait of Charles Petras, 1947 (The Indian Listener, vol. XII, no. 3, 1947, p. 77 © All India Radio, New Delhi. Photo: Margit Franz 2021).
    Final departure from Europe: Charles Paron and Charles Petras leaving Brussels, 5 June 1935 (Balteau, Bernard, and Luc Norin, Helmi Veldhuijzen. Ianchelevi ou la matire transfigure. La Renaissance du livre, 2003, p. 54 © Musée Ianchelevici La Louviére, Archive).Report on IFL exhibition featuring Iden Ianchelevici, a Belgian friend of Petras, July 1949 (IFL News, vol.1, no. 3, August–September 1949, p. 3. Private Archive Margit Franz © Musée Ianchelevici La Louviére, Archive).French amateur theatre, spring 1949 (IFL News, vol. 1, no. 1, April–May 1949, p. 3. Private Archive Margit Franz © Musée Ianchelevici La Louviére, Archive).
    Bombay Art Society

    One of the oldest art societies in India founded by colonial rulers, Bombay Art Society showcased art students and professional artists from all over India, including the Progressive Artists of Bombay.

    Word Count: 31

    Title page of the catalogue for the Golden Jubilee Exhibition, exh. cat. Bombay Art Society, Bombay, 1939 (© Bombay Art Society, Photo: Partha Mitter 2021).
    Francis Newton [Souza], Prosperity, Cat. no. 17, n.d. and S.H. Raza, Bori Bunder, Cat. no. 65, n.d. Detail of an inside page, exh. cat. The Bombay Art Society, 1947, 21 (© Bombay Art Society, Photo: Partha Mitter 2021).Walter Langhammer, Portrait of Mrs. Shirin Vimadalal, 1939, Detail of an inside page, exh. cat. The Bombay Art Society, 1939, Frontispiece (© Bombay Art Society, Photo: Partha Mitter 2021).Title page of the catalogue for the 57th Annual Exhibition, exh. cat. The Bombay Art Society, December 1947 (© Bombay Art Society, Photo: Partha Mitter 2021).A.J. Patel, Sabita, cat. no.727, n.d. and J.N. Unwalla, Screened, cat. no. 721, n.d. Detail of an inside page, exh. cat. The Bombay Art Society, 1939, 46 (© Bombay Art Society, Photo: Partha Mitter 2021).
    Jehangir Art Gallery
    Art GalleryAuditorium HallLibrary

    Efforts to create spaces for the democratic presentation, discussion and reflection of art in Bombay after independence led to the establishment of the Jehangir Art Gallery in 1952.

    Word Count: 27

    Jehangir Art Gallery, 2018 (Photo: Margit Franz; All Rights Reserved).
    Jehangir Art Gallery, entrance hall, 2007 (Photo: Margit Franz; All Rights Reserved).Jehangir Art Gallery, entrance hall: Bust of the donor and founder Sir Cowasji Jehangir between his two sons. On the left Jehangir Cowasji Jehangir, who gave the gallery its name; on the right Sir Hirji Jehangir, former chairman of the Jehangir Art Gallery Trust, 2018 (Photo: Margit Franz, 2018).Portrait of Jehangir Cowasji Jehangir by Walter Langhammer (Photo: Margit Franz, 2007).Commemorative plaque (Photo: Margit Franz, 2018).Art education for the masses: Walter Langhammer presents a USIS (United States Information Service) film at Jehangir Art Gallery, Auditorium Hall, 1952 (© Digital Photo Archive Margit Franz, authorized by the late Kekoo Gandhy; © Gandhy Archive, Mumbai; All Rights Reserved).
    Iconic Photo of the Progressive Artists’ Group and Their Associates

    There are two versions of the PAG photo at the opening of M.F. Husain's first solo exhibition in 1950 (published in 1996 and 2003) and two narratives about the opening.

    Word Count: 28

    The iconic photo of the Progressive Artists’ Group and their associates, 1950 (Digital Photo Archive Margit Franz © Gandhy Archive, Mumbai; All Rights Reserved). First row: (seated, from left) Dr. Mulk Raj Anand, Siloo Bharucha, Renu Khanna, K.H. Ara, M.F. Husain (in black headgear, seated in front of everyone else), Bal Chhabda, unknown, G.M. Hazarnis (holding folder). Second row: (seated, from left) unknown, unknown, Laxman Pai, Käthe Langhammer (black dress with white framed collar), Emanuel Schlesinger. Third row: (standing, from left) Dr. Percy Brown, Khorshed Gandhy, T.A. Schinzel (behind Mrs. Gandhy), Krishen Khanna (in striped tie), Sadanand Bakre (with glasses, just behind Khanna), D.G. Kulkarni (with glasses, near Bakre), V.S. Gaitonde (to Kulkarni’s left), A.A. Amelkar, Tyeb Mehta, Shiavax Chavda (with hands folded), Walter Langhammer (in dark tie), Kekoo Gandhy, Manishi Dey. Last row: (standing) all four men are unknown.
    First publication of the iconic photo of the Progressive Artists’ Group and their associates in the catalogue for the inauguration of the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) Mumbai, 1996 (Photo: Yashodhara Dalmia, 2020).Another moment from the same lineup: the historic snapshot from Khorshed and Kekoo Gandhy’s archive on the front-page of their book The Perfect Frame. Presenting Modern Indian Art. Stories and Photographs from the collection of Kekoo Gandhy (Zitzewitz 2003, front page).Dr. Percy Brown, Käthe Langhammer and M.F. Husain in front of Husain´s ground-breaking painting Man during the evening of the opening on 3 February 1950 (Dalmia 2001, 103; authorized by Yashodhara Dalmia).
    Open Studio Evenings by Käthe and Walter Langhammer

    The painter Walter Langhammer and his wife Käthe built an informal infrastructure to promote local avant-garde artists and regularly invited them to Open Studio Evenings at their studio.

    Word Count: 29

    Open evening at the Langhammer’s, from left: Walter Langhammer, unknown woman, Kekoo Gandhy, Wayne Hartwell (American cultural affairs diplomat) n.d. (© Digital Photo Archive Margit Franz; authorised by the late Kekoo Gandhy; All Rights Reserved).
    Dinner party at the Langhammer’s studio amidst his paintings (© Digital Photo Archive Margit Franz; authorised by the late Kekoo Gandhy; All Rights Reserved).Käthe and Walter Langhammer (far left) attending an Indian dinner, late 1930s/early 1940s (© Digital Photo Archive Margit Franz; authorised by the late Kekoo Gandhy; All Rights Reserved).Opening of the annual Langhammer exhibition by Sir Cowasjee Jehangir in the Convocation Hall, 27 November 1949 (from left: Mr. C.V. Oak, Rani Maharaj Singh, Walter Langhammer, Sir Cowasjee Jehangir, Käthe Langhammer) (© Digital Photo Archive Margit Franz; authorised by the late Kekoo Gandhy; All Rights Reserved).Photography Morning in the Great Mosque in Ajmer (translation by the author) by Käthe Langhammer, Rajasthan, 1940s (© Archive Margit Franz: Langhammer Photo Archive; All Rights Reserved).Käthe Langhammer in South India. They toured all of India for The Times of India Annual. Photo by Walter Langhammer (© Archive Margit Franz: Langhammer Photo Archive; All Rights Reserved).Invitation card for the Langhammers’ farewell party, April 1957 (© Digital Photo Archive Margit Franz; authorised by the late Kekoo Gandhy; All Rights Reserved).Entrance to Langhammer’s residence at 20 Nepean Sea Road (Photo: Margit Franz, 2007; All Rights Reserved).