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Murlidhar Achrekar (1907 - 1979)

Old Masters

Old Master Murlidhar AcharekarMurlidhar Ramchandra Acharekar was born In Bombay, Maharashtra in 1907. Acharekar initially studied at the Kelkar Institute of Art, Bombay, before receiving his Diploma in painting from the government of Maharashtra. In the 1930s he spent two years in London studying at the Royal College of Art. This exposure to studying and experimenting with European art, its technique and ideation in an art college in London within its own western ambiance proved to be a unique experience that set Acherekar apart in his first hand knowledge of European art practice and the environment that inspired its form and imagery. His art education in England nurtured in him a true sense of creative freedom and made him the most technically versatile. To the credit of Acharekar and his contemporaries they were able to achieve path breaking solutions to making the stylistic nuances of European art practice their own.

He become the Deputy Director of the Sir J. J. School of Art and was also an award winning Art Director in Raj Kapoor's RK Film Studio, who published books illustrating his travels and despite his taxing schedules remained the true educationist. Wherever he went Acharekar carried his sketchbooks, making notations of his experiences. In his notions of art practice mastery of line and drawing was the most vital tool in creating great works of art. As sadhana is to music so sketching is to the artist, seems to be the ground rule that Acharekar followed.

Powerful rhythm and movement with a large compositional sweep characterise the paintings and drawings of Acharekar. A portraitist par excellance he also reveled in capturing the everyday lived moment. The compositional equilibrium that Acharekar achieves through this polarized placements of painterly elements in his watercolours are invariably full of attendant quirks that bring a lively note of a covert wit and urgency to his work. Acharekar's rural landscapes retain the organic connection with the earth and display a near existential feel for the elemental, living quality of nature. Acharekar renders the figuration with great sophistication and invests the persona with a regal grace. He keeps the compositions open and precise in their detailing. The high ceilings and vast rooms of the palace lend a simple, understated grandeur to the ambiance.

In 1961 he held 1st one man show of his water colour paintings at Jehangir Art Gallery. In 1962 he visited art galleries in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Bruges, Berlin, Rome, Florence, Venice and Oslo. In 1962 he visited Milan and Hanover Industrial Fairs. In 1972 he had created colourful murals for one of the prominent architects of Mumbai that time.

He masterfully inverts the power of his brushwork and washes to hold a contained elegance in his rendering of the theme. In fact techniques in handling oils and aqua relies seem to blend and invert to create a serene ambiance. In addition to all Acharekar also prepared drawings and watercolours visualizing film sets, ceremonial gates erected for special occasions This prolific artist also sketched political personalities with great élan. Thus Acharekar's contribution to the historic process of adaptation and assimilation of European art practice and theoretical perspectives is invaluable. This highly personalized and radically different approach to evolving a visual vocabulary of his own puts him in a class apart as a forerunner of a greater cultural symbiosis that continues between India and the Western world right into the post modern period.


  • 1907



  • 1948 - 1956 : Principal, Academy of Art, Bombay
  • 1937 - 1939 : Deputy Director, J. J. School of Art, Bombay
  • 1932 - 1934 : Studied at Royal College of Art, London
  • 1928 : Diploma in Painting, Govt. of Maharashtra, Bombay
  • 1923 : Appointed as Junior Teacher, Kektar Institute of Art, Bombay
  • 1917 - 1923 : Studied at Ketkar Institute of Art, Bombay


Selected Exhibitions

  • 1985, 1956, 1954 : Solo Exhibition, Bombay
  • 1936 : Solo Exhibition, inaugurated by Maharaja of Mandi, New Delhi
  • 1932 : Exhibited painting titled Round Table Conference, Imperial Institute, London
  • Exhibition, of 51 paintings depicting the first hundred years of the freedom movement (1757 – 1856), inaugurated by Indira Gandhi, Birla Bhavan, New Delhi


Selected Collections

  • Parliament House, New Delhi Sangeet Natak Academy, New Delhi



  • 1973 : He was commissioned by the Selection Committee, NGMA to depict in 51 paintings, the first hundred
  • 1972, 1973 : President, BAS, Bombay
  • 1968 : Awarded Padmashri, Govt of India
  • 1968 : President, Cine Art Directors Association of India, Bombay
  • 1960 : Member, Selection and Judging Committee, National Exhibition., LKA, New Delhi
  • 1957 : Awarded Film Journalists Association Trophy, Bombay
  • 1957, 1959 : 6th Filmfare Award, for Art Direction, Bombay
  • 1956 : The Apostle of Peace, pencil sketches of Jawaharlal Nehru was published. Worked with Raj Kapoor and Guru Dutt as an Art Director
  • 1955 : Awarded Tamra Patra Govt. of India
  • 1954 : Published Sky Scrapers and Flying Gandharvas
  • 1952 : Traveled in USA, as a member of the Indian Film Delegation, at the invitation of Motion Picture Association of America and State Dept., USA. Published Rupdarshini as account on how to deal with the human form
  • 1947 : President, Art Society of India, Bombay
  • 1935 : The then Viceroy of India, Lord Willingdon sends him to paint the Silver Jubilee celebration of king George V, London
  • 1931 : Gold Medal, BAS, Bombay
  • 1930 : Silver Medal, BAS, Bombay
  • 1929 : Maharaja of Bhavnagar’s Prize, Bombay
  • 1923, 1928 : Explored new areas of expression like photography and lithography. Started a lithopress, Bombay