S. N. Swamy (artist)

Last updated

Padmashree Singannachar Narasimha Swamy (1911 - 19 December 1983) was an Indian artist who lived and worked in India his whole life. An alumnus of Chamaraja Technical Institute, Mysore and Sir J.J School of Arts, Bombay, Swamy, as affectionately referred to, moved around in high circles, with friendships with Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (the first Prime Minister of Independent India), Mahatma Gandhi, Lord Mountbatten of Burma and the like. His paintings and other works of art can be found in various government offices, museums and personal collections around the world.


Born in Mysore, India, to a traditional family of artists, he took to art naturally as he was introduced to the field by his father "Swarnakala Nipuna" Singannacharya, who was a goldsmith of Mysore Palace, by taking the young Swamy to his work. Starting his career with being the Mysore Palace photographer and later Mysore Palace artist he went on to being art director with Dadasaheb Phalke in prabhat studio, Pune, director of Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation and member of Central Lalitha Kala Academy and Central Sangeeth Kala Academy, New Delhi. His models for oil paintings range from the likes of Lord Mountbatten of Burma, Mahatma Gandhi [1] and so on. His passion was to do pencil sketches, which was his specialization, of world-renowned personalities and get them autographed by the subject. Some of the likes being Albert Einstein, [2] Winston Churchill, David Low, [3] Adolf Hitler, George Bernard Shaw, [4] H.G. Wells, [5] Bernard Montgomery, [6] Franklin D. Roosevelt, [7] etc.

He has received many awards in his recognition as an accomplished artist. In 1969 he was awarded the national award, Padma Shri, [8] in recognition of his contribution to the field of art and the State Lalitha Kala Academy award in November 1966. Some of his books which have been published are, Temple Sculptures of India, Messenger of Peace and Priyadarshini.

Early life and family

S.N. Swamy was born in Mysore, India in 1911 as a single child to "Swarnakalanipuna" Singannacharya (1875-February 1967), a goldsmith and sculptor in the Mysore Palace, famous for his works of the Golden Howda and the Golden Throne at the Mysore Palace, and Thayamma. His father, Singannacharya, a master goldsmith and sculptor, is accredited with many a works of art which find a place of prominence in many palaces, temples and religious institutions around India. If his grandfather, Narasimhachar, also a goldsmith and sculptor at the Mysore Palace, is remembered for his creation of the golden umbrella adorning the deity at Tirupathi, his granduncle, Singanna, is remembered for the silver bust of Maharaja Krishna Raja Wadiyar IV in Mysore Palace.


Swamy attended the Mission High School and completed his matriculation. Always accompanying his father to the palace and looking him work, Swamy started to sketch the sculptors and started assisting his father by sketching designs and figures. Seeing Swamy discontinue studies and his interest in art, Singannacharya joined him to the Chamaraja Technical Institution, Mysore in 1928 and saw him finish in 1932. In the Fine Arts section of the Mysore Dasara Exhibition 1931, an oil painting of S.N. Swamy, "Honored Old Age"(a study of an old lady in brick red saree and drab background) won the silver medal.

Once, on his ride on Irwin road in Mysore, the then Maharaja, Krishna Raja Wadeyar iv, who had watched Swamy sketching at the palace on a few occasions, saw him whiling away his time with friends. Upon seeing the Maharaja, Swamy ran inside his house and the Maharaja sent for him and advised him to not waste time and work at what he is good at. In response, Swamy drew a fine sketch of the Maharaja and received appreciation. Following which the Maharaja sponsored Swamy to do his masters in art at Sir. J.J. School of Arts, Bombay, in 1934. At Sir. J.J. School of Arts, Swamy studied under the tutelage of the eminent art teacher, Durandhar. During this period, Swamy used to interact with well-known artists like Sir Desai, Haldankar, Sithawar, Karmarkar, A.X. Tendon, on a regular basis. He won the gold medal at the Shimla Art Exhibition for his series of paintings titled "My Model", the paintings was of a Maharastrian woman. Sometime later, paintings based on "My Model" by Swamy's friend, artist Mac Millian, won the award. In Mysore Dussera Art Exhibition Swamys "My Model" series won the S.B. Shastry memorial award. A painting done at this time titled "Figure from Life" is presently at the British Museum, London. [9] He completed his studies at Sir J.J. School of Arts in 1938.

Personal life

Swamy got married at the age of 13 years to Dodda Narasamma, aged 11 years. His father-in-law, T. Yelakapachar, was a very wealthy and famous man, being a palace contractor, who is credited along with his elder brother, T. Cheluvachar and father, Timmiachar for the construction of the Durbar Hall of the Mysore Palace. In 1928, Swamy became a father on the birth of a son S Chinna Krishna, and a few years later his second son N Vasudev was born. Swamy used to live in his father's house on Irwin road, opposite to the five-faced Anjenaya temple. He later moved into "Dilkush Cottage", a palace bungalow on Hyder Ali road, previously occupied by eminent guests of the Maharaja, one of whom was the late singer Gauhar Jan. In Dilkush Cottage, Swamy entertained guests such as, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Chief Ministers of Karnataka and many important people.

Final years

Swamy kept on painting and sketching till his last years. He spent his last years in his Geetha mandir road residence, "Shree Nilaya". After the demise of his wife in 1982, he became very lonely and breathed his last in Holdsworth Memorial Hospital on 19 December 1983.

List of paintings

Noteworthy among his many paintings are portraits of Lady Edwina Mountbatten of Burma [10] and Mahatma Gandhi [11] His pencil sketch of Richard M. Nixon was used for the January 1969 cover of SPAN magazine. [12] His sketch of Dwight D. Eisenhower is with the Smithsonian. [13] Swamy's gift of Sir Rabindranath Tagore's pencil sketch to George Bernard Shaw, still hangs in Shaw's residence. [14] [15] http://www.chrisbeetles.com/artists/swamy-s-n-1911-1983.html http://www.unesco.org/artcollection/NavigationAction.do?idOeuvre=2122

Related Research Articles

Srirangapatna Town in Karnataka, India

Srirangapatna is a town of Mandya district in the Indian State of Karnataka. Located near the city of Mysore, it is of religious, cultural and historic importance.

Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma Maharajah of Travancore

Sree Padmanabhadasa Sree Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma, popularly known as Sree Chithira Thirunal, was the last ruling Maharaja of the Princely State of Travancore, in southern India until 1949 and later the Titular Maharajah of Travancore until 1991. Sree Chithira Thirunal was the eldest son of Junior Maharani of Travancore, H.H. Sree Padmanabhasevini Vanchidharmavardhini Rajarajeshwari Maharani Moolam Thirunal Sethu Parvathi Bayi, and Sri Pooram Nal Ravi Varma Koyi Thampuran of the Royal House of Kilimanoor. He was privately educated, and became the Maharajah of Travancore, at the age of 12, upon the death of his maternal great uncle, the then Maharajah of Travancore Sree Moolam Thirunal, on 7 August 1924. He reigned under the regency of his maternal aunt, Sethu Lakshmi Bayi (1924–31), until he came of age and was invested with full ruling powers on 6 November 1931.

Kingdom of Mysore Historic state in India

The Kingdom of Mysore was a realm in southern India, traditionally believed to have been founded in 1399 in the vicinity of the modern city of Mysore. The kingdom, which was founded and ruled for most part by the Hindu Wodeyar family, initially served as a vassal state of the Vijayanagara Empire. The 17th century saw a steady expansion of its territory and during the rule of Narasaraja Wodeyar I and Chikka Devaraja Wodeyar, the kingdom annexed large expanses of what is now southern Karnataka and parts of Tamil Nadu to become a powerful state in the southern Deccan. During a brief Muslim rule, the kingdom shifted to a Sultanate style of administration. During this time Mysore experienced sustained growth in per capita income, structural change in the economy, increased pace of technological innovation, and reached the height of its economic and military power and dominion in the latter half of the 18th century under the de facto ruler Haider Ali and his son Tipu Sultan.

Chamarajendra Wadiyar X Maharaja of Mysore

Maharaja Chamarajendra Wadiyar X was the twenty-third maharaja of the Kingdom of Mysore, between 1868 and 1894.

Gandhi Jayanti National holiday celebrated in India to mark the occasion of the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi Jayanti is an event celebrated in India to mark the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi. It is celebrated annually on 2 October, and it is one of the three national holidays of India. The UN General Assembly announced on 15 June 2007 that it adopted a resolution which declared that 2 October will be celebrated as the International Day of Non-Violence.

The three Round Table Conferences of 1930–32 were a series of peace conferences organized by the British Government and Indian political personalities to discuss constitutional reforms in India. These started in November 1930 and ended in December 1932. They were conducted as per the recommendation of Jinnah to Viceroy Lord Irwin and Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald, and by the report submitted by the Simon Commission in May 1930. Demands for Swaraj, or self-rule, in India had been growing increasingly strong. B. R. Ambedkar, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, V. S. Srinivasa Sastri, Sir Muhammad Zafrulla Khan, K. T. Paul and Mirabehn are key participants from India. By the 1930s, many British politicians believed that India needed to move towards dominion status. However, there were significant disagreements between the Indian and the British political parties that the Conferences would not resolve. The key topic was about constitution and India which was mainly discussed in that conference. There were three Round Table Conferences from 1930 to 1932.

Krishna Raja Wadiyar IV Maharaja of Mysore

Maharaja Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV (Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar; 4 June 1884 – 3 August 1940) was the twenty-fourth maharaja of the Kingdom of Mysore, from 1894 until his death in 1940. At the time of his death, he was one of the world's wealthiest men, with a personal fortune estimated in 1940 to be worth US$400 million, equivalent to $7 billion at 2018 prices. He was the second-wealthiest Indian, after Mir Osman Ali Khan, Nizam of Hyderabad.

Mirza Ismail

Sir Mirza Muhammad Ismail - Amin-ul-Mulq, KCIE, OBE ; was an Indian statesman who was the Diwan of the Kingdoms of Mysore, Jaipur and Hyderabad.

Oswald Birley

Sir Oswald Hornby Joseph Birley was an English portrait painter and royal portraitist in the early part of the 20th century.

Nandalal Bose Indian artist and a pioneer of modern Indian art (1882-1966)

Nandalal Bose was one of the pioneers of modern Indian art and a key figure of Contextual Modernism.

Mysore painting

Mysore painting is an important form of classical South Indian painting that originated in and around the town of Mysore in Karnataka encouraged and nurtured by the Mysore rulers. Painting in Karnataka has a long and illustrious history, tracing its origins back to the Ajanta times The distinct school of Mysore painting evolved from the paintings of Vijayanagar times during the reign of the Vijayanagar Kings The rulers of Vijayanagar and their feudatories encouraged literature, art, architecture, religious and philosophical discussions. With the fall of the Vijayanagar empire after the Battle of Talikota the artists who were till then under royal patronage migrated to various other places like Mysore, Tanjore, Surpur, etc. Absorbing the local artistic traditions and customs, the erstwhile Vijayanagar School of Painting gradually evolved into the many styles of painting in South India, including the Mysore and Tanjore schools of painting.

Culture of Mysore

Mysore is a city in the state of Karnataka, India. It is known as the cultural capital of Karnataka. Mysore was the capital of the Wodeyar kings who ruled over the Mysore Kingdom for many centuries. Wodeyars were great patrons of art and music and have contributed significantly to make Mysore a cultural centre. Mysore is well known for its palaces, museums and art galleries and the festivities that take place here during the period of Dasara attract a worldwide audience. Mysore has also lent its name to popular dishes like Mysore Masala Dosa and Mysore Pak. Mysore is also the origin of the popular silk sari known as Mysore silk sari and has also given rise to a popular form of painting known as Mysore painting.

Maharaja Sir Tej Singh Prabhakar, KCSI, was the last ruling Maharaja of Alwar.

M. R. Acharekar

Murlidhar Ramachandra Acharekar (1907–1979) was an Indian artist and film art director in Hindi cinema who won the Filmfare Best Art Direction Award three times: for Pardesi (1958), for Kaagaz Ke Phool (1960), and for Jis Desh Men Ganga Behti Hai (1962).

Kirti Mandir, Porbandar

Kirti Mandir is the memorial house kept in memory of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Kasturba Gandhi located in city of Porbandar, Gujarat, India.

A. R. Poduval

Ambadi Rama Poduval (1884–1940) was a surgeon and artist who was born in Thrissur, Kerala, India on 27 January 1884. He matriculated from the CMS High School, Thrissur in 1899 and did the FA Course in the Maharaja's College, Ernakulam and graduated from the Presidency College, Madras in 1903. He took his degree of Bachelor of Medicine and Master of Surgery in 1912 from the Madras Medical College and then joined the Cochin Government Service. While in service, he went to England for higher studies in Medicine. During the World War I, Poduval was recruited in England for war service and went to Mesopotamia and Burma as an army doctor. In recognition of his war service, he was appointed as Captain and was reinstated in the Cochin Government Service. Again he went to Germany in 1928 to take his MD Degree from the University of Hamburg. Returning from Germany, Poduval continued as Civil Surgeon, mostly in Thrissur and Ernakulam. He retired from the service as Director of Public Health, in 1939. Shortly after retirement, Poduval died at the age of 56, after a brief illness at his house "Umaramam" in Trichur. It was the famous Malayalam poet Vallathole who gave the name for his newly built house. He was also the founder president of the Indian Medical Association, Trichur.

Sare Jahan se Accha is a pencil sketch in Ahmednagar city. It was created in the year 1997. The sketch has been performed by Pramod Kamble who is a creative painter and sculptor. He created it as a tribute to the nation on the occasion of 50 years of independence. It was painted on the specially prepared wall of Mahavir Art Gallery in Ahmednagar. Pramod has portrayed Bharat Mata and 500 great people born out of Indian culture. This is supposed to be the world's biggest pencil sketch. This is the only fixed asset in India which was made as a part of India's 50th Independence day celebration.

K. Venkatappa Indian painter, sculptor and musician (1886-1965)

K. Venkatappa (1886–1965) was a pioneer painter, sculptor and an exponent of veena. He was born into a family of court painters in the princely state of Mysore, present day Karnataka. He was a pupil of Abanindranath Tagore. He was best known for his watercolors, with sensible realism. His Ootacamund watercolors reflect his independent vision.

Y. Subramanya Raju Artist (b. 1907, d. 1995)

Y. Subramanya Raju was an Indian artist who patronized the Mysore style of traditional art. He was born into a family of court painters in the princely state of Mysore. The Mysore Dasara Procession paintings which adorn the walls of the Kalyana Mantapa in the Mysore Palace are few of his exquisite works. In the later years, Raju involved himself with the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath for the promotion of fine art and artists in the State. Raju spent most of his years teaching and popularizing Mysore style of art, as a recognition, Emeritus Fellowship was awarded by the Ministry of Human Resource Development and the Government of India gave its National Award for his excellence in Traditional Mysore Painting.

Sadashiv Sathe or Bhau Sathe is an Indian sculptor. His notable works include the 5-metre high statue of Mahatma Gandhi that is part of the main structure of the National Salt Satyagraha Memorial situated at Dandi, Navsari and the 18-foot equestrian statue of Shivaji at the Gateway of India, Mumbai.


  1. "Mahatma Gandhi's painting by S.N.Swamy" (PDF). Oil Paintings. Karunadu. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 October 2011. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  2. "Albert Einsteins autographed pencil sketch by S.N.Swamy". christies. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  3. "David Low's autographed pencil sketch by S.N.Swamy". Art. chrisbeetles. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  4. "George Bernard Shaw's autographed pencil sketch by S.N.Swamy". Art. chrisbeetles. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  5. "H.G. Wells' autographed pencil sketch by S.N.Swamy".
  6. https://historical.ha.com/itm/autographs/u.s.-presidents/-bernard-montgomery-1st-viscount-montgomery-of-alamein-framed-sketch-signed-total-2-items-/a/692-36128.s
  7. https://www.gilderlehrman.org/sites/default/files/FDR_GLC00162.18_00001.jpg
  8. http://www.dashboard-padmaawards.gov.in/?Award=Padma%20Shri&Year=1969-1969&Name=Singannachar%20Narasimha%20Swamy&Field=Art
  9. "Painting by S.N.Swamy". Art UK . Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  10. "Oil Painting of Lady Edwina Mountbatten by *S.N.Swamy". Art UK . Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  11. "Mahatma Gandhi's painting by S.N.Swamy". Oil Painting. UNESCO. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  12. https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https%3A%2F%2Fimage.isu.pub%2F180308061359-42381f2efce508cee7ffe1c7e49dc1e2%2Fjpg%2Fpage_1_thumb_large.jpg&imgrefurl=https%3A%2F%2Fissuu.com%2Fspanmagazine%2Fdocs%2F01-1969-cr&docid=XNmXfeQ_5KjKMM&tbnid=2Nhs5pWAo2SD2M%3A&vet=10ahUKEwiO2MyAhJbjAhXPT30KHQZzAYoQMwifAShRMFE..i&w=320&h=452&itg=1&bih=657&biw=1366&q=s.n.swamy%20paintings%20and%20sketches&ved=0ahUKEwiO2MyAhJbjAhXPT30KHQZzAYoQMwifAShRMFE&iact=mrc&uact=8
  13. http://npg.si.edu/portraits/search?page=13&edan_q=Artists&edan_fq%5B0%5D=topic%3A%22Politics%22&edan_fq%5B1%5D=date%3A%221950s%22&edan_fq%5B2%5D=topic%3A%22Universities%22&edan_local=1
  14. http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/results?Maker=Padmashree+Singannachar+Narasimha+Swamy+(Mysore+1911+-+Mysore+1983)
  15. https://nt.global.ssl.fastly.net/images/1052188objectsinshawsstudyshawscorner.jpg?width=1920&auto=webp&crop=16:7