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Gopis approach Krishna

late 17th century


Unknown Artist

  • Details

    Other Titles
    Illustration to the Bhagavata Purana
    Gopis apporach Krishna and Balarama with offerings
    Place where the work was made
    Cultural origin
    late 17th century
    Media categories
    Miniature , Painting , Watercolour
    Materials used
    opaque watercolour on paper
    18.5 x 34.0 cm
    Gift of Dr Nigel and Mrs Norma Hawkins 2010. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
    Not on display
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

  • About

    The beloved Hindu god Krishna was born a prince but a prophecy foretold that his uncle Kamsa, the demon king of Mathura, would be challenged by a nephew. Kamsa then ordered the deaths of all of his sister’s sons, so Krishna was whisked away to grow up incognito in a cow-herding village.

    As Krishna neared adulthood, he took on the name of the divine cowherd of Virdavan and became an object of fascination and obsession for many of the young women, known as gopis, who tended to the cows. Among them was Radha, who was madly in love with Krishna and their intense and sometimes fraught relationship is the subject of many paintings. In fact, all the Indian courts commissioned paintings depicting the amorous adventures of Krishna that also became a model for depictions of royal lovers. In some cases, the lovers would be depicted within a village setting as the case of Krishna and the cowherds and at other times they would be depicted within the palace. Such paintings, while sometimes illustrating real romances resonated with the divine example of Krishna and Radha and thereby symbolised a religious aspiration for union with the divine.

    One of the most prolific and evocate images of Krishna as the divine cowherd is illustrated by Krishna playing the flute to the enraptured gopis (cowherds). Tending to the cows, the lone Krishna lifts his staff which is also flute and plays in such an enchanting way as to draw the gopis into his divine sphere, symbolising the union of the individual soul (atma) with the supreme being- the great soul.

  • Places

    Where the work was made


  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 1 publication

  • Provenance

    Maggs Bros. Ltd., 1978-28 Feb 1979, London/England, Oriental miniatures & illuminations, lot no. 31.

    Dr Nigel and Mrs Norma Hawkins, 28 Feb 1979-2010, Toronto/Ontario/Canada, moved to France early 1990s, moved to Australia late 1990s. Gift to the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Feb 2010.