Sir JJ School of Art, Mumbai
Established in 1865, Sir JJ School of Art is one of the oldest and most prestigious art schools in India and was set up through donation by the Parsi businessman, Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy. Jejeebhoy, who was on the selection committee of the Great Exhibition of 1851, was moved by the response received by Indian wares at the exhibition and was propelled by public opinion to contribute towards “improving” Indian industrial arts as well as taste.
Elementary drawings and design classes were offered at the makeshift premises of the Elphinstone College from 1857 onwards and British painter James Payton and two teachers, Joseph Crowe and Geroge Wilkins Terry, offered training in European art and aesthetics. Crowe was a scholar of the Renaissance and taught orthographic projection, geometry and figure drawing to students. Emphasis was placed on training students to copy from works of classical artists so that they could acquire technical skills to render drawings from life later. In 1865, with the appointments of John Lockwood Kipling and John Griffiths, from the South Kensington School of Art (now incorporated under the Royal College of Art [RADA], London), a focus on decorative and industrial arts began to develop. The curriculum for drawing, modelling, painting and metalwork was overhauled to follow the structure established by the British art administrator and educator, Richard Redgrave. Under their leadership, architectural design came to be offered and the school became involved in urban planning. The students of the school were involved in the decoration of the Victoria Terminus Station (now Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus), Crawford Market and Rajabai Towers. Under Griffith’s direction, paintings of the Ajanta caves were extensively copied and catalogued in 1872. Art education was eventually more formalised and the focus on industrial arts waned. From 1890, regular examinations were introduced, following the example of South Kensington, and the school was taken under the auspices of the Education Department of the Government of Bombay. By 1891, five distinct departments were operational: Drawing and Painting, Sculpture and Modelling, Architecture, Applied Arts and Arts and Crafts. The school’s notable alumni include: MV Dhurandhar, MF Husain, Akbar Padamsee, FN Souza, Tyeb Mehta, SH Raza, Homai Vyarawalla, Bhanu Athaiya, BV Doshi, KK Hebbar, KH Ara, Uday Shankar, Prabhakar Barwe, Atul Dodiya, Jitish Kallat, Riyas Komu, Bose Krishnamachari, Shilpa Gupta and Tushar Joag.
In 1952, the Department of Architecture came under the University of Mumbai and the Sir JJ School of Architecture was set up. In 1961, the Applied Arts department branched out and was recognised as an independent institute under the University of Mumbai. From 1981, the school in its entirety became affiliated with the University of Mumbai. At present, it offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in Painting, Sculpture, Metal Work, Ceramics, Textile Design and Interior Decoration, along with diploma courses in Art Education and Teaching.
The school was shifted to its present premises in 1878. The building, built in neo-gothic style was constructed by the architect George Twigge Molecey is recognised by the Government of Maharashtra as a heritage structure.
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