We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


Krishna greeting Balarama, illustration from a Bhagavata Purana

circa 1800


Unknown Artist

  • Details

    Other Title
    Krishna greeting Balarama in a forest watched by Nanda, gopis and cowherds
    Place where the work was made
    Datia Madhya Pradesh India
    circa 1800
    Media category
    Materials used
    opaque watercolour on paper
    22.5 x 32.3 cm image; 29.0 x 39.0 sheet
    Gift of Dr Jim Masselos 2021
    Not on display
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

  • About

    Balarama is the older brother of Krishna. Here on the river bank the brothers clasp hands in greeting. The left of the painting depicts the gopis (milkmaids) of the cowherding village in which the brothers grew up, while the treasured cows leap into the frame on the right. The scene is from the Bhagavata Purana, a Hindu text focussing on devotion to Krishna (an avatar of the god Vishnu). Balarama and Krishna’s mother was Devaki, sister of the evil king Kamsa. When a prophecy predicted he would be killed by Devaki’s eighth child, Kamsa committed to killing any children she bore. After Balarama was conceived, Vishnu had the baby transferred from Devaki’s womb to that of Rohini. He was brought up by cow-herding foster parents in Vrindavan. Later, when Krishna was born, he too was spirited away to live in Vrindavan. Krishna can be recognised by his blue skin while Balarama is dressed in red.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 3 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 2 publications

  • Provenance

    Maharaja of Datia, pre 1947, Datia/Madhya Pradesh/India, seal of the Maharaja on verso.

    John Gilmore Ford, pre 1984, Baltimore/Maryland/United States of America

    Sotheby's London, 02 Jul 1984, London/England, offered for sale as the property of John Gilmore Ford.

    Jim Masselos, 05 Jul 1984-2021, Sydney/New South Wales/Australia, purchased through Margaret Tyler c/o Maggs Bros Ltd. Donated to the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2021.