White marble sculpture of the child Krishna
Jaipur, Rajasthan, India, 18th century AD
This small sculpture depicts the popular Indian deity, Krishna. He is identified by the peacock feather that, even as a child, he wears. Here he is attended by a female figure who offers him milk; this is probably his mother, Yashoda. Veneration of Krishna has been widespread throughout India for over a thousand years and has generated a range of devotional cults of great intensity. One of these which concentrates on Krishna as Shrinathji is based on the temple at Nathdwara also, like Jaipur, in Rajasthan.
This sculpture formed part of the collection of Major-General Charles Stuart (died 1828), who was an officer in the army of the East India Company. He served in India for over 27 years, and was a keen student of Indian life and traditions and an inveterate collector. He opened his house in Wood Street, Calcutta as a museum, probably the first in the subcontinent. He learnt Indian languages and in his writings championed all things Indian and Hindu. He opposed Christian missionary activity and the notion that the West was morally superior.
His Indian sculpture was purchased after his death by the goldsmith John Bridge; this in its turn entered the British Museum in 1872 and has since formed the core of the British Museum's collection of Indian sculpture.
M. Willis, 'Sculpture from India' in A.W. Franks, Nineteenth-cent-1 (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)
J. Fischer, 'A solitary vindicator of the Hindus: the life and writings of General Charles Stuart (1757/8-1828)', Journal of the Royal Asiatic S (1985), pp.35-57
Asia OA 1872.7-1.131
Collected by Major-General Charles
Acquired as part of the Bridge Collection in 1872