Abdur Rahman Chughtai is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential Pakistani artists of the 20th century. Chughtai’s goal was to establish an indigenous style of art depicting traditional scenes from Islamic history and folklore, one completely separate from Western influences. This outlook was similar to that of the Bengal School in Calcutta, operated by the Tagore family.
Whilst Chughtai predominantly worked with watercolors he was also a gifted print-maker who honed his etching skills at the London School of Photo Engraving during the mid 1930s. His detailed etchings featured similar subjects to his watercolours, were printed in small editions and were rarely numbered.
The etching depicted here illustrates the artist’s extraordinary skill as a draughtsman. The work depicts a carpet seller entering a town, the intricacy of which is reminiscent of the prints of Aubrey Beardsley, whose dense linear designs had become fashionable in both Europe and India at the beginning of the twentieth century.
The elaborate detailing of the carpet is the main focus of the scene, however on closer inspection more features are visible such as the crowd gathered beneath an archway, a mother and child next to a brazier and a figure in Western dress. The scene is set against the backdrop of a town, it’s buildings creating geometric patterns which disappear into the distance.