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To Catch a Glimpse of Him, Even from a Distance

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To Catch a Glimpse of Him, Even from a Distance

Purkhu, Indian, b. 18th century

Creation date: ca. 1790
Creation place: India

Other Information

Type: Watercolor Painting
Medium and Support: Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Credit Line: Edwin Binney 3rd Collection
Accession Number: 1990.1335
State/Province: Himachal Pradesh
Dimensions: 11 5/32 in. x 13 3/8 in. (28.3 cm x 34 cm)


Maggs Bros. Ltd., London, England (1964 - August 29, 1964)

Edwin Binney 3rd, San Diego, California (August 29, 1964 - August 27, 1990)

San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, California (August 27, 1990 - )

Label Copy

Krishna: Lover and Hero (2003)

The young playmates mature, and their encounters take on new dimensions. This picture is inscribed on the back with lines of verse written by the 17th century Hindi poet of love Mati Rama from his Satasai (Seven Centuries of Verse). They are the words of a young woman, spoken as a garlanded Krishna emerges into view from a thicket:

Today for the first time seeing became worthwhile.

The painter dotes on the charged mood of this “darshan” or union through the eyes. Trees and creepers are laden with “honey-shedding” flowers, and even the open lotus buds bend to Krishna’s regal light. The gopis cluster—bashful and yet brazen in their direct gaze. Krishna’s beauty is dazzling:

He is blue like a new cloud; his eyes are like lotuses; his face is as graceful as the autumnal full Moon; his lips are like bimbas; the row of his teeth shames the peals. A gentle smile plays on his lips.
Brahma-vivarta-purana, Brahma Khanda 21, 32

He moves toward them with his festive stick piercing an untold number of blossoms aimed gently but firmly toward them.
The distance between them is rich, heavy and intoxicating, and renders the subject of the picture more a mood and idea than a narrative.

October 2005
Domains of Wonder
A lotus pond separates the handsome, youthful Krishna, an incarnation of the god Vishnu, from the timid maidens of his village, who are all in love with the young cowherd.
Kangra artists excelled in creating lyrical, dreamy landscapes. The flowering trees with birds perched upon its branches, and the lush green field peppered with blossoms enhance the amorous atmosphere of this quiet encounter.
Last Updated: 9/5/2017


This object was included in the following exhibitions:

Rajput Miniatures from the Collection of Edwin Binney, 3rd The Portland Art Association , 9/24/1968 - 12/14/1969

Domains of Wonder: Selected Masterworks of Indian Painting San Diego Museum of Art , 10/22/2005 - 1/27/2008


This object has the following bibliographic references:

William George Archer, OBE, MA, D.Litt.. Rajput Miniatures, Portland Art Museum. Portland, Oregon, 1968
Page Number: 124-125, 126, Figure Number: 96

William George Archer, OBE, MA, D.Litt.. Indian Paintings from the Punjab Hills, Sotheby Parke Bernet. London, England, 1973
Page Number: 126, Figure Number: 4

Oriental Miniatures & Illumination, Maggs Bros. Ltd.. London, England, July 1964
Page Number: 174 no. 167, Figure Number: 167

Dr. Mohinder Singh Randhawa. Indian Miniature Painting Roli Books International. New Delhi, India, 1981
Page Number: 8, 117, 123, Figure Number: 77

William George Archer, OBE, MA, D.Litt.. Pahari Miniatures: Oxford University Press. Mumbai, India, 1976
Page Number: 25, Figure Number: 24

Brijinder Nath Goswamy and Dr. Caron Smith. Domains of Wonder: San Diego Museum of Art. San Diego, California, 2005
Page Number: 244, 245, Figure Number: 104


Inscription, On reverse:

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