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


Kamala Kamini nursing Ganesha



Kalighat style


circa 1830 – 1930

  • Details

    Other Title
    The goddess Durga, mother of Ganesh
    Alternative title
    Ganesh Janany
    Place where the work was made
    Kalighat Kolkata (Calcutta) West Bengal India
    Media categories
    Painting , Watercolour
    Materials used
    watercolour with gold and silver paint on paper
    44.0 x 27.6 cm (irreg.)
    Signature & date

    Not signed. Not dated.

    Purchased 1959
    Not on display
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Kalighat style

    Works in the collection


  • About

    Images such as this are known as Kalighat paintings, after the famous Kalighat temple in Kolkata (Calcutta) dedicated to Kali, the fearsome goddess of time and death. From around 1830, distinctive, quickly painted souvenirs were produced
    in large numbers for visitors who flocked to the temple. The images were intended to aid domestic worship and typically illustrate Hindu deities. Later, mass-produced prints replaced Kalighat paintings.

    Paintings of goddesses were a favourite subject among Khaligat customers and their composition is often similar due to the need to produce pictures quickly and cheaply. Here is a painting of the goddess Kamala Kamini who is said to be an incarnation of the fearsome goddess Durga.Durga is usually depicted slaughtering the buffalo demon, Mahisasura, but here she is seated on a lotus leaf and accompanied by the elephant-headed god Ganesha. In some stories, Kamala Kamini, Durga is the mother of Ganesha, while in others the connection between the goddess and the elephant symbolises an abundance of rain.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 3 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 5 publications

    • Kate Brittlebank, TAASA Review, "Postscript: Kalighat's Missionaries', pg. 23, Sydney, Dec 2006.

    • Kate Brittlebank, Journal of the History of Collections, 'Anthropology, fine art and missionaries: The Berndt Kalighat album rediscovered', pg.127-142, Oxford, May 2008.

    • Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Folk Paintings and Souvenir Pictures', Sydney, 2003, 48 (colour illus.).

    • Haema Sivanesan, Indian painting, 'Indian Painting', verso of poster., Sydney, 2001. cat.no. 5.1

    • Jill Sykes, Look, 'Artworks from India under the British Raj...', pg.30, Sydney, Jul 2010, 30 (colour illus.).

  • Provenance

    Lucy Thompson, 1890-1951, Adelaide/South Australia/Australia, purchased in Kolkata between 1890 and 1913.

    Hans Heysen, pre 1953, Hahndorf/South Australia/Australia

    Stefan Heysen, Jun 1959, Hahndorf/South Australia/Australia, by descent

    David Jones' Art Gallery, Sydney, 24 Jul 1959, Sydney/New South Wales/Australia, purchased by the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 24 July 1959

Other works by Kalighat style

See all 9 works