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Debi Prasad Roy Choudhury MBE (1899–1975) was an Indian sculptor, painter and the founder chairman of the Lalit Kala Akademi. He was known for his bronze sculptures, including Triumph of Labour and Martyr’s Memorial, and is rated by many as one among the major artists of modern Indian art. He was a fellow of the Lalit Kala Akademi, selected in 1962. The Government of India awarded him the third highest civilian honour of the Padma Bhushan, in 1958, for his contributions to Art.
Roy Choudhury was born on 15 June 1899 at Tejhat, in Rangpur in the undivided Bengal of the British India (presently in Bangladesh), and did his academic studies from home. He learnt painting from Abanindranath Tagore, the renowned Bengali painter, and his earlier paintings showed influence of his teacher.Turning to sculpting, he initially trained under Hiromony Choudhury, and later, moved to Italy for further training.It was during this period, his works started to gather western influences. Returning to India, he joined the Bengal School of Art for further studies. In 1928, he moved to Chennai to join the Government College of Fine Arts, first as a student and then worked there as the Head of the Department, vice principal and the principal till his retirement in 1958.
While Principal at the Chennai College, he was honoured by the British Government as an MBE in 1937.When Lalit Kala Akademi was founded in 1954, he was appointed as the founder chairman. He also served as president of the UNESCO Art Seminar conducted in 1955 at Tokyo and the Nikhil Bharat Bangiya Sahitya Sammilani of 1956 staged at Chennai.
Roy Choudhury, reported to be influenced by the works of the French sculptor, Auguste Rodin,had his first solo exhibition in Kolkata in 1993 after which had several exhibitions in India, including Birla Academy of Art and Culture, Kolkata, Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai, National Gallery of Modern Art, Delhi and Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi, among others.He is known for large size outdoor sculptures, such as Triumph of Labour, and the statue of Mahatma Gandhi, both at Marina Beach, Chennai, Martyrs’ Memorial in Patna, When Winter Comes and Victims of Hunger, both bronze statues,Dandi March statue in Delhi and The Temple Entry Proclamation by Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma at Thiruvananthapuram. An Inmate of Harem, Ras Leela, A Dramatic Pose of a Man in a Large Cloak and Hat and The Tribune are some of his notable paintings.His works are displayed at Government Museum, Chennai, National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, Srichitralayam at Jaganmohan Palace, Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad and Travancore Art Gallery, Kerala and are featured in many books, Indian Masters, Volume I,The Two Great Indian Artists and Art and Aesthetics of Deviprasad being some of them.He also published a book, Devi Prosad Roy Chowdhury, co-written by Jaya Appasamy,and some of his students such as Nirode Mazumdar and Paritosh Sen later became known artists in their own rights.
In 1958, the Government of India awarded him the Padma Bhushan, the third highest Indian civilian honour.He received the Lalit Kala Akademi Fellowship in 1962 and, six years later, Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata, honoured him with DLitt (honoris causa), in 1968. Choudhury, who was married to Dolly,died on 15 October 1975, aged 76