Mukul Chandra Dey was born in 1895 in Calcutta.
A student of Rabindranath Tagore’s Santiniketan School during 1905-1906 he left his mark as a pioneer of drypoint-etching in India. In 1916 he was the first Indian artist to travel abroad (Japan) for the purpose of studying printmaking as an art. While in Japan, he studied under Yokoyama Taikan and Kanzan Shimomura at Tokyo and Yokohama. At Yokohama, Rabindranath Tagore and Mukul Dey lived with the Japanese silk-merchant Tomitaro Hara and enjoyed studying classical Chinese and Nihonga style Japanese paintings. In 1916 after Japan, he left for America to learn the technique of intaglio printmaking under James Blanding Sloan and Bertha Jaques in Chicago. In 1917 when he returned to India he concentrated on creating etchings as a fine art. In 1920 he once again travelled abroad, this time to learn etching and engraving under Frank Short and Muirhead Bone. He studied at both the Slade School of Fine Art and the Royal College of Art in London.
From 1928-1943 he was the first Indian principal of the Government School of Arts, Calcutta. During this time he organized two very important exhibitions at the school premises of Jamini Roy And Rabindranath Tagore.
Mukul participated in several exhibitions:
From 1911-16 he exhibited in group exhibitions in Paris, London, San Francisco, Chicago and Calcutta. In 1928 he participated in a group exhibition at ISOA in Calcutta. In 1945 he took part in a group exhibition at Suri Museum, Birbhum. From 1946-1951 he exhibited in Sri Lanka, Benaras and Santiniketan. In 1959 he took part in a group exhibition at the Commonwealth Art Institute, London. In 2011 he was posthumously exhibited in 'Ethos V: Indian Art Through the Lens of History (1900 to 1980) at Indigo Blue Art in Singapore.
He received several awards:
In 1936 he won the Jubilee Medal of King George V and Queen. In 1937 he was given the Majesties’ Coronation Medal. He was presented the Abanindra Puraskar by the Government of West Bengal. In 1953-1954 he went to U.S.A. on a Fulbright Scholarship and was the curator of the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi. In 1987 he received the Fellow of the Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi and also received the Honorary Doctorate from Rabindra Bharati University.
He passed away in 1989 in Calcutta.