- Museum number
Gouache painting on paper from a portfolio of sixty-three paintings of deities and daily life. Painting on two sheets of paper, depicting the story of Gajendra, the king of the elephants being attacked by a crocodile in a stream. Viṣṇu’s golden chakra is depicted first flying mid-air and then decapitating the crocodile. Viṣṇu is shown alongside Lakshmi and Garuḍa.
- Production date
- 1820 (circa)
Height: 28.50 centimetres
Height: 29.60 centimetres
Width: 48 centimetres (size of page)
Width: 46.50 centimetres (size of the drawings)
- Curator's comments
- Dallapiccola 2010:
The left page is occupied by a dramatic mountain landscape with rugged boulders and forests inhabited by all kinds of animals. On the tallest peak the three kalashas of a temple are visible. A large stream filled with aquatic life feeds a lake in which a fierce crocodile with his fangs firmly planted in Gajendra's leg drags him into the depths. Viṣṇu’s golden chakra is depicted first flying mid-air and then decapitating the crocodile. The right page shows the elephant herd emerging from behind the hills while Gajendra bows at the feet of Viṣṇu. In Viṣṇu's upper right hand he carries the chakra and in his upper left hand the shankha. His lower right hand blesses the elephant. Behind him stands the four-armed goddess Lakshmi carrying lotuses in her upper hands. Garuḍa, with a white face and red body, stands near the divine couple, his hands folded in anjali mudra. A snake hangs around his neck and he has wings with multicoloured tips. At the top right corner of the page a group of deities, all with hands in anjali mudra watch the happenings from the sky.
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
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