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Photo realistic paintings in Tibet were a product of the 20th century. The artist Amdo Jampa Tseten (1911-2002) was encouraged by Gendun Chophel (1903-1951) to do photo realistic portraits and incorporate this technique into Tibetan tangkha painting in general.
Another technique which became popular at the turn of the century and lasted up and into the 1970s in India, Nepal and Bhutan was the painting on black and white photographs with colour pigments. This was eclipsed in the 1980s with the availability of more inexpensive colour photography.
Jeff Watt 10-2015 [updated 6-2017]