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An image of Krishna as the divine cowherd (red border) by

Bikaner, Rajasthan, India

Krishna as the divine cowherd (red border)
Other titles:
Alternative title:
Place of origin
Rajput circa 1500 - 1947 → India
circa 1820
Media categories
Miniature, Painting, Watercolour
Materials used
opaque watercolour with gold on paper

17.2 x 10.8 cm image; 24.9 x 15.9 cm sheet

Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Bequest of Mr J. Kitto 1986
Accession number
Not on display
Further information

Krishna is one of the best known of the Indian gods, and certainly he was one of the favourite heroes of the Rajasthani court artists. Krishna means "dark-skinned one," so he is always painted blue. According to mythology he grew up in the countryside as a cowherder, playing the flute, flirting with the milkmaids (known as 'gopis') and mischievously stealing their clothes as they bathe in the river. In this painting, however, Krishna is depicted rather like the Greek god Pan. Seated on a blossoming lotus that rises out of the swampy water, he mesmerises the two cows that look on with his enchanting flute-playing. This painting is one of a series of four paintings from the collection of the Maharaja of Bikaner. It is quite possible that such a painting may have been presented to the Maharaja by a court artist on a festival such as Krishna Jayanti, the celebration of Krishna's birth.

Haema Sivanesan, Look, March 2001, pg. 21.

Bibliography (3)

Carol Cains, Krishna: love and devotion, 'Krishna the cowherder', p6-9, Victoria, 2007, 6-9. General reference

Haema Sivanesan, Indian painting, 'Indian Painting', verso of poster., Sydney, 2001. 2.22 - 2.25 (one of a set of four paintings; 103-106.1986)

Haema Sivanesan, Look, 'Indian painting', pg. 20-21, South Yarra, Mar 2001, cover (colour illus.), 5 (colour illus.), 20, 21 (colour illus.). The colour illus. on the cover is a detail of this work.

Exhibition history (2)

Indian Painting, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 06 Apr 2001–11 Jun 2001

Miniatures: works from the Contemporary Asian Collection, Queensland Art Gallery, South Brisbane, 30 May 2004–29 Aug 2004