The artwork of the artists who had resided around the area known a Kalighat in present day Kolkata (Calcutta) is known as 'Kalighat' paintings. These artists, due to historic reasons of the British people taking over the rule of this region, have migrated to this place. Thus the roots of these paintings are in the Bengal of nineteenth century.
The Kalighat painters took their subjects from the religion and the mythology, but they were perhaps the first lot of Indian artists who had started painting for their customers in all the strata of the life, including common men. In addition to the religious subjects they have honoured the various subjects taken from the social surrounding, too. They have tried to infuse the strong social themes and the social consciousness of the time in their paintings.
The materials they used for accomplishing their art were very simple and easily available from the local area. They used simple paper and water colours to paint. Their paint brushes were made from the hair of squirrel and calf. The Kalighat style of paintings has four main characteristics: speaking and meaningful gestures of the figure painted, perfect and brush strokes carrying quality and the linear economy.
These painters have taken social aspects like the change lifestyle of the urban class of the people and the native villagers. In their paintings, these artists tried sending messages to the mass of people to remain away from certain social evils like drinking and the company of unchaste women.
Though started in the nineteenth century, the Kalighat painting has reached recognition in during the turn of the century. From the early years of twentieth century, this art of painting is regarded as an inventive aesthetic movement in the Bengal region of India receiving more and more international attention.