Sir Rabindranath Tagore, a Bengali Polymath from India

Did you know what polymath meant? I didn’t, but Sir Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) epitomizes the meaning of the word. A person of wide-ranging knowledge or learning, or its secondary meaning, as a Renaissance man or woman. According to Wikipedia, Tagore reshaped his region’s literature and music, and was the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913.

Tagore loathed formal education, instead spending a lifetime reading, traveling, exploring, questioning, experimenting, challenging, and discovering. I love that he said, “proper teachings do not explain things; proper teaching stokes curiosity.” I so agree.

Servants raised Tagore and his siblings, as his mother died when he was quite young and his father traveled widely. Yet they all became poets, philosophers, musicians, novelists, composers, playwrights, and a high-ranking civil servant.

Tagore was remarkable even as a child. As an eight-year-old he wrote poetry, at age sixteen he released his first poems under the pseudonym Bhanushima (“Sun Lion”) which literary authorities claimed as long-lost classics. In his intriguing life time, he composed over 2,230 songs, was an award winning poet, wrote 8 novels and 4 novellas, wrote drama-operas, and became an artist in his later years. This was a fascinating discovery of a man for whom I had no knowledge for the 16th week of Diary of Faces.

Sharon Tomlinson chose one of his paintings to paint but as I discovered more about him and his life’s work, I wanted to paint him. This is my version of the artist Nishit Dey’s watercolor portrait of Sir Tagore. He kindly gave me permission to share. I used acrylics.

Sir Rabindranath Tagore, Kathie Vezzani

Sir Rabindranath Tagore by Nishit Dey
Printed with permission

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Mary says:

    Wow, what an interesting person, and I love your version of his portrait!


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