Lot 1
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c. 1610

Bhagwat Purana

Bikaner School

Size: 6.5 x 9.5 in (16.5 x 24.1 cm)

The paintings produced by the Bikaner School in it's earlier and later phases are strikingly different. Being one of the earliest among the Rajasthani ateliers, Bikaner produced some outstanding pure bred paintings in the 1600s. These works had a strong local flavour with very little influence from the Mughal court. Colours used were spectacular primary hues and works produced had wonderful compositions, backgrounds and subjects. The creations were vibrant and mesmerizing.

Between 1605 and 1610, the Bikaner artists created a series centered on the Bhagwat Purana. Various episodes in the life of Krishna, the God of Love, were depicted in paintings.

This particular example is that of Kubja smearing sandal paste on Krishna's forehead. The story goes that King Kamsa of Mathura sent an invitation to Krishna and Balarama through Akrura, to attend a sporting event in Mathura, to which both of them agreed. While going across the city of Mathura, Krishna happened to meet a young damsel who was disfigured with a hump on her back. She was carrying a vessel of sandal paste for Kamsa. Her name was Trivakra, but she was also called Kubja. Kubja was so captivated by the duo that she immediately offered this paste to Krishna instead. No sooner does the paste touch Krishna's forehead, then Kubja is magically rid of her abnormality.

Krishna occupies the centre of the painting. He is dressed in a yellow dhoti. His body is dark blue and has been painted using Lapiz Lazuli. His brother Balarama stands beside him and seems to be in the act of applying the paste to his forehead. Two little boys stand beside the duo watching the scene. The group has been highlighted using a deep red background. As seen in this series, the red is burnished and has a lovely sheen. Kubja is dressed in a short tight choli and red skirt, wears a lot of jewellery and extends the vessel containing sandal paste. Her back-open blouse and large ear ornaments are in line with fashion prevailing at the time. Her hair is braided and ends in a decorative tassel. A thin transparent veil extends from her head to her toes. The painting is brilliant, cleverly composed and striking. Examples from this world famous set can be seen in museums around the world.

In the later phase of the Bikaner School (later half of the 17th century), Mughal painters were brought in by the royalty. The style changed completely and took a different turn. A painting from this second phase is also included in this catalogue (lot 3, Portrait of a Maharaja).

Inscription on the reverse: Apart from the subject that is inscribed, the Bikaner seal is also present. Lower down one can see the signature of Khet Singh, the Bikaner palace librarian who felt it utmostly essential to leave his signature behind almost every painting of this set, which was documented in the 1960s.

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  Lot 1 of 55  

25-26 APRIL 2012

$13,000 - 15,000

Winning Bid
(Inclusive of Buyer's Premium)

Formerly in the Bikaner Royal Collection

Published dimensions of this Lot are those of the full paper size and not the visible size of this Lot


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