Chitrakar in Nepali means ‘artist’ or ‘painter’. The Chitrakars learned their skills through their inheritance as they start their traditional painting education under their fathers. The Chitrakars are not only painters of scroll-painting, and frescoes in temples and palaces, but up to the present have continued to create masks and paintings for certain ritual occasion among the Newars, and also to produce statues and to paint ceremonial vessels.
Dirgha Man Chitrakar, the second son of the painter Laxmi Lal was a well-known painter of his times. Beside being a painter, he was also a photographer. Prime Minister Chandra Shumsher appointed Dirgha Man as a Royal Painter and Court Photographer. When he accompanied the Prime Minister on his trip to England and France in 1908 as part of his entourage, he had opportunity to paint views of Europe and study European art.
At the age of 71, he resigned from his position at the court of Maharajas. Dirgha Man’s only son Ganesh Man Chitrakar took his father’s position as a Royal Painter and more particularly as a Court Photographer. In 1952, after Nepal began to open up the outside world and the first development organizations set up offices in the country, Ganesh Man was given a post in USAID as chief photographer. He made the first aerial photographs of Kathmandu Valley in 1955 and was the first person in the country to develop color slides. Around 1970s, he opened the photo studio Ganesh Photo Lab.
The Chitrakar collection includes glass plate negatives taken at Nepal’s court and the Kathmandu Valley between 1900 and 1946 and acetate negatives taken between 1946 and 1975. The collection also includes cameras, background and enlargers that were used by Dirgha Man and Ganesh Man Chitrakar.