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Image of Krishna, Bearer of the Mount Govardhana, Beloved of the Gopis

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Krishna, Bearer of the Mount Govardhana, Beloved of the Gopis


Creation date: 3rd quarter 15th century
Creation place: India

Other Information

Type: Manuscript Painting
Medium and Support: Opaque watercolor on paper
Credit Line: Edwin Binney 3rd Collection
Accession Number: 1990.195
State/Province: Gujarat
Dimensions: 3 31/32 in. x 4 1/4 in. (10.1 cm x 10.8 cm)

Provenance

J. R. Meugens, London, England ( - April 8, 1975)

Sotheby's, London, England (April 8, 1975 - April 8, 1975)

Cooper, London, England (April 8, 1975 - April 8, 1975)

Edwin Binney 3rd, San Diego, California (April 8, 1975 - August 27, 1990)

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

Label Copy

Krishna: Lover and Hero (2003)

The sound of Krishna’s flute is the metaphor for his irresistible call to the soul for union with the divine. Here Krishna is shown dancing and playing his flute, flanked on each side by two gopis. The gopis are enchanted in his presence; they have their arms around one another, and one joins him in a spontaneous dance, flinging her arm to the sky.

This 15th century manuscript reflects a style of painting used for Jain religious manuscripts made in Western India in Gujarat, the center of Jain worship. It has several distinctive characteristics of painting in the region before the Mughals brought their Persian-inspired draftsmanship, shading, and color palette to the sub-continent in the 16th century.

The page is painted in a narrow range of colors—red, blue and yellow. The text and painting are laid out in a horizontal format that roughly preserves the elongated proportions of palm leaves that were used for religious manuscripts before Mughal influence made the use of paper more common. Text and image are shown side by side in compartments. The ground of the image is bright red, giving life to the airy line-drawn figures that occupy it in a single plane. A the top of the picture, mountains emphasize the order and scale of the grouping--Krishna is the largest and at the center, with gopis and cows symmetrically flanking him in decreasing size—more than providing a convincing horizon.

Notice that the heads of all the figures are all shown in three-quarter profile, and that the farther eye on each face juts out-- to better see and be seen. Another distinctive convention of this indigenous Indian style is that the line of Krishna’s flute, held by two of his four arms, does not cross his body fully, but is interrupted by his neck, giving the appearance of the flute disappearing into his neck and re-emerging on the other side.

October 2005
Domains of Wonder
These two pages are from a Hindu text devoted to Krishna (an incarnation of the god Vishnu) as a youth. The artists paint flat, angular figures on a red background, revealing a continuity of the centuries-old style most frequently seen in Jain manuscripts of western India. The stories are well-known, and only terse visual clues are required to reference complex plots.

Sonya Quintanilla (2014) Quebec
Krishna, Bearer of the Mount Govardhana, Beloved of the Gopis
Folio from a Balagopalastuti («Hymns in Praise of the Child Krishna»)
Western India, 3rd quarter 15th century
Opaque watercolor on paper, 3 31/32 in. x 4 1/4 in. (10.1 cm x 10.8 cm)
Edwin Binney 3rd Collection, 1990.195
These two pages are from a Hindu text devoted to Krishna (an incarnation of the god Vishnu) as a youth. The artists paint flat, angular figures on a red background, revealing a continuity of the centuries-old style most frequently seen in Jain manuscripts of western India. The stories are well-known, and only terse visual clues are required to reference complex plots.
The sound of Krishna’s flute is the metaphor for his irresistible call to the soul for union with the divine. Here Krishna is shown dancing and playing his flute, flanked on each side by two gopis. The gopis are enchanted in his presence; they have their arms around one another, and one joins him in a spontaneous dance, flinging her arm to the sky.
Last Updated: 9/5/2017

Exhibition

This object was included in the following exhibitions:

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

Into India: South Asian Paintings from The San Diego Museum of Art San Diego Museum of Art , 2/28/2012 - 5/27/2012

Bibliography

This object has the following bibliographic references:

Catalogue of Oriental Miniatures and Manuscripts and An Important Qajar Painting, Sotheby & Co.. London, England, April 8, 1975
Page Number: 24, Lot no. 122

Brijinder Nath Goswamy and Dr. Caron Smith. Domains of Wonder: San Diego Museum of Art. San Diego, California, 2005
Page Number: 38, 39, Figure Number: 6

Dr. Harsha V. Dehejia, ed. A Festival of Krishna: Roli Books. New Delhi, India, 2008
Page Number: 381, Figure Number: 381

Dr. Sonya Quintanilla and Patrick Coleman. Visiones de la India Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. Madrid, 2012
Page Number: 74, 264, Figure Number: cat. 26, 75

Dr. Sonya Quintanilla and Patrick Coleman. Visiones de la India (Mexico) Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia. Mexico , 2013
Page Number: 152, Figure Number: cat.26, p. 159

Marks

Initialed, On front:

Inscription, On reverse:

Number, On reverse:

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