The real story behind the ‘Glow of Hope’ – a painting by S.L. Haldankar


blog20Glow of Hope, also referred to very commonly as the “Woman With the Lamp”, is a painting by S.L. Haldankar. Born in Savantawadi in Maharashtra in 1882, Sawlaram Lakshman Haldankar showed early promise and enrolled in the Sri JJ school of Arts, Mumbai. He soon became a student of Dhurandhar and Cecil Burns. In 1908, he started the Haldankar Art Institute in Mumbai. Later, with other friends, he founded the Art School of India in 1918 and became its president.

The Glow of Hope, is a watercolour masterpiece, now housed in the Jaychama Rajendra Art Gallery at the Jaganmohan Palace in Mysore and is one of the most prized possessions as well as a major attractions at the Gallery. It was painted in 1945-46, almost seven decades ago but yet holds the same amount of fascination for art lovers all over the country. Though the painting is by S.L. Haldankar, it has been wrongly attributed to Raja Ravi Verma.

This painting is of Haldankar’s third daughter, Gita Haldankar who turned 90 five years ago. When the painting was being done, Gita had to hold her pose for three or more hours continuously. There is a very interesting story about how the idea for this painting was conceived. During Diwali, Haldankar saw his daughter in a beautiful saree with a candle and her hand woven around the flame of the candle to prevent the wind from blowing it out. The rays of the candle radiated from the gap within her fingers and it also illuminated her face. A captivated Haldankar decided to model a painting on the same lines. The medium used was watercolours on painted handmade paper as Haldankar wanted to prove that he can paint without a single mistake as mistakes made with oil paints can be corrected.
Each of the water colours used signifies and symbolizes different things -the lavender in her saree stands for grace and the gold showcases the royal touch. The woman in a saree, stands for grace, feminity and natural beauty.

This painting is in a domain which is usually darkened with curtains, to highlight the subtlety of the glowing candle in her hand. The effect of the painting is heightened by the shadow of the woman in the back.

If you have never seen this painting in its real form, we suggest you do so soon.

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