Folio from an Usha-Aniruddha Romance series India, Garhwal c. 1840 Opaque watercolor heightened with gold on paper 9 x 12 in. (22.9 x 30.5 cm.)
Usha, daughter of Vana, King of the Daityas had a dream of a wonderfully handsome prince with whom she instantly fell in love. Chitralekha, Usha’s friend aided her in drawing portraits of all the princes until Usha recognized Aniruddha, grandson of Krishna. At her behest Chitralekha proceeds to Dwarka to bring Aniruddha back to Usha’s kingdom.
Here we see Usha coming upon Aniruddha in his princely chamber and after awaking he explains that he too has had a similar dream of a beautiful princess and accompanies Chitralekha to Usha. A great battle ensues because of the dream crossed lovers.
Rukmini Visiting the Temple India, Garwhal c. 1800
Krishna on the Road to Kundinapura: A folio from a Rukmini Harana Series Attributed to Mola Ram India, Garhwal c. 1800 Opaque watercolor heightened with gold on paper Folio: 7 1/2 x 10 3/4 in. (19 x 27.3 cm.) Image: 7 x 10 in. (17.8 x 25.4 cm.)
Provenance: Collection of Mukandi Lal, Acquired by 1990s
This painting illustrates a scene from the Rukmini Harana series, a part of the Bhagavata Purana that tells the story of Krishna and Rukmini. The latter lived in Kundinapura with her parents and one brother, named Rukma, who had made arrangements for Rukmini to marry Shishupal, king of Chanderi. Rukmini truly longed to marry Lord Krishna, but he had killed Kamsa, a friend of Rukma’s, so her brother prohibited any such union. In a last attempt to avoid this unwanted marriage, Rukmini sent a Brahmin messenger with a letter to Krishna pleading with him to save her. Krishna leaves his palace at Dwaraka to come to Rukmini’s aid; this scene is depicted here as Krishna sits upon his chariot en route to rescue her, conversing with the Brahmin messenger while they travel.
The present example is attributed to Mola Ram (1743 – 1833), a contemporary of Chaitu, whose work was so widely known known during his time that his name was recognizable as far as Nepal, and artists journeyed from afar to study with him. He was trained in the Mughal tradition under his father Mangat Ram until he was 25, when he visited Kangra and quickly merged their characteristic styles and motifs with his own developing style. See another painting executed by Mola Ram, “Rukmini’s Letter to Krishna” (Garhwal Painting, Mukandi Lal, New Delhi, 1968, pp. 80-81, pl. XX) for another example within the series of the artist’s composite style .
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Asia Week NY 2019
Arcane Masters: A Curated Exhibition of Indian and Himalayan Art
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