History of The Indian College of Arts & Draftsmanship
Manmathanath Chakravarty, the famous photographer laid the foundation of ‘The Indian School of Art’ at 240A, Bowbazar Street, Calcutta with just three students in the year 1893, At that time Henry Hover Locke, a student of South Kensington, who had taken over the charge of art education officially, introduced a new syllabus which aimed to make experts on copying, practical drawing and industrial drawings.
Under such method of teaching, students, at the outset, were not allowed to draw what they saw in the visual world, they would have to draw from copy books, printed materials, antiques, models and last of all from nature. Lot of altercations, of course, had ensured for and against such a system. Manmathanath was also one of them. Manmathanath’s school was against establishment. His viewpoint was rather in favour of learning technical art. As such, he shortly introduced draftsmanship course and renamed his school as ‘The Indian School of Arts and Draftsmanship’.

The Indian Art School was gaining prominence and fame. Number of students was also increasing.
‘The Indian Art School’ did get Govt. Grant, but it received help and backing from the Native Kings and many respectable personalities. Maharaja Prodyot Kumar Tagore was one of them. The Calcutta Corporation raised their grant from Rs.75/- to 7250/- in 1908. The first Govt. Grant came as late as 1915.
While Manmathanath took ‘Sannyas’ and Mr. Shyamlal Chakraborty, his brother, took the chair of Principal of the School Technical teaching aspect got obliterated slowly and steadily. In Indian Art College too, draftsmanship course has been dropped. In 1948-49, syllabus contained Drawing, painting, Commercial Art as well as Engraving, Draftsmanship, Photography and Art Painting and allied subjects. But teaching of these subjects were gradually dropped and teaching was ultimately confined to three departments viz. Fine Art (Drawing-Painting), Applied Art (Commercial Art) and Sculpture, which are still in force. In 1956, this school was conferred by approval of the college in 1966 by the Rabindra Bharati University. Many renowned artists were pleased to teach in this college, apart from their creative contributions. The great names of Sri Atul Basu and Gobardhan Ash are worth mentioning. In fact, inspite of many problems that arose in teaching, its good name always remained unimpaired.
In 1978, the college was taken over by the state Govt. Despite demands for total nationalization, it was not done. The college had meanwhile shifted to 139, Dharmatala Street from Bowbazar Street. This premise was also dilapidated and again shifted to 72, Dum Dum Road in 1983. In 1996, degree course was introduced in ‘Indian Art College’. The college has been enlisted under Sec. 2(f) and 12 (b) of U.G.C act in 2004 as well.
Presently, the University Syllabus is followed in place of old Art Education system. But syllabus cannot be the last word in any establishment. The culture and tradition imparting education is rather valuable. Such an original concept, in the case of Indian art College, has become a tradition.
Beside this tradition a mammoth plan had been drafted to construct an ultramodern building. The dream has come true. We are proud of the beautiful building that expands the scope for artistic work. A space has been offered that would thrive with creativity in near future. We aspire for the new dawn.