Opaque pigment on paper
Circa 1660 -1680
This image from the Mahabharata series from Bilaspur depicts Krishna seated on a chariot surrounded by his army, seemingly on their way to battle. At the centre of the painting, Krishna, blue skinned and clad in a yellow dhoti and golden crown holds his famous bow, Shaarnga. A gold image of Garuda, the vahana of Vishnu, with his winged human body and parrot head folds his hands as the standard on the chariot, revealing Krishna’s true identity.
It appears likely that the present page and one published by Archer from the Binney Collection and another from the Brooklyn Museum are from the same series. Although no inscriptions are noted by Archer in his painting, it seems the format and the treatment of faces, clothes and turbans and landscape are all consistent. Also of note is the identical treatment of the horses’ shaded rectangular saddlecloths in the Binney page and the cover on the elephant in the present page.
For other pages from this series see W.G. Archer, Indian Paintings from the Punjab Hills, London, 1973, vol.II, nos. 5 (i), Sotheby’s London, April 23, 1974, lots 93-100 and July 9, 1974, lot 202; Waddington and Tooth, London, June 1977, no. 68, Christie’s, New York, Pal Family Collection, March 20, 2008 and Francesca Galloway, October, 2008, p. 29. Glynn, C., ‘Early Painting in Mandi’, in Artibus Asiae, XLIV, 1, 1983, pp. 21-64. For further discussion about the series and two other closely related sets see Joachim Bautze, Indian Miniature Paintings, c. 1590-c.1850, Galerie, Saundarya Lahari, Amsterdam, 1987, p. 113.