- Museum number
Gouache painting on paper from a portfolio of sixty-three paintings of deities and daily life. Śiva , as Nataraja is shown dressed in a tiger skin, dancing the ananda tandava (dance of bliss). His figure, set off by a blue background, is surrounded by a prabhavali (ornamental arch). His right foot is firmly planted on the spine of the wriggling and dwarfish Apasmára purusha (personification of ignorance). In his upper right hand he carries the damaru (hourglass shaped drum) and in his upper left the fire. His lower right hand is in abhaya mudra and his lower left points at his raised foot. Ganga peers out of his crown of matted hair and in the whirling of the dance, some dreadlocks have become loose and fly around him. A garland of severed heads hangs from his neck. The crescent moon rests on his forehead. The Apasmára purusha carries in his hands a sword and shield. Fangs protrude from his mouth and on his forehead is a conspicuous tripundra (three horizontal marks). On the left of Nataraja is his consort, the green-complexioned Śivakamasundari, robed in a red sari and bedecked with jewels. In her right hand she carries a lotus flower. On the right of the dancing god stand his two foremost devotees, the tiger-footed Vyaghrapada and Patanjali, with the lower body and hood of a snake. Both hold their hands in anjali mudra. Gandharvas fly above the tableau carrying baskets of flowers and scattering petals on the dancing god.
- Production date
- 1820 (circa)
Height: 24.50 centimetres
Height: 28.30 centimetres
Width: 22.60 centimetres (size of page)
Width: 21.50 centimetres (size of the drawings)
- Curator's comments
- Dallapiccola 2010:
This scene is also referred to as the Chidambaram tableau.
The portfolio consists of sixty-three paintings on loose sheets of paper. The series includes images of deities, mendicants and ritual scenes such as a wedding and cremation. Executed on European laid and water-marked paper, with the date 1816 appearing on one sheet, the paintings must have been produced in the immediately following years, c. 1820. There is much use of gold paint and brilliant colours, which is still bright, evidence of the portfolio having been kept closed for long periods since its creation.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2008 Nov 11-2009 Mar 1, Museum Rietberg, Zurich, 'Shiva Nataraja: The Lord of Dance'
2010 Aug 4- Nov 15, China, Shanghai Museum, ‘India: The Art of the Temple’
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Formerly in the possession of the last owner’s maternal great-uncle, Rupert Richardson-Gardner, who worked in India in the 1930s. However, given the presence of auction room stickers on several of the paintings (one provides the date of the sale – June 15th 1977), it is more likely that the portfolio was acquired by him during his post-war career in Christie’s (he was a specialist in carpets and rugs, but, given his previous career in India, he probably maintained an interest in things Indian which he saw passing through the sale-rooms).
- Registration number