Panel from a temple hanging: recto: crowned god Balarama; verso: Vishnu

citation

The recto features the crowned figure of Balarama, half brother of god Krishna, who frequently features in south India as one of the ten incarnations of Vishnu. Holding his identifying attribute, the hala or ploughshare, Balarama directly faces the viewer, standing erect on a pedestal beneath a canopy of flower garlands and individual pendant flowers including full lotus buds. On the reverse is the standing form of the deep blue god Vishnu, in the form in which he is enshrined in the famous temple at Tirupati. Framed by a tiruvatchi or aureole crowned by a lion-head, he holds discus and conch shell in his two rear hands, while one front hand is in the varada gesture of wish-granting and the other rests lightly on his thigh.

Historical period(s)
early 18th century
School
South Indian School
Medium
Opaque watercolor, gold, and paper applique on cotton
Dimensions
H x W (overall): 21.7 x 12.4 cm (8 9/16 x 4 7/8 in)
Geography
India, Andhra Pradesh, Tirupati
Credit Line
Gift of Terence McInerney
Accession Number
S1998.113
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Painting
Type

Painting

Keywords
Balarama, India, lion, lotus, varada mudra, Vishnu, WWII-era provenance
Provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Previous Owner(s)

Terence McInerney
Arthur Tooth & Sons Ltd. 1842-mid 1970s
Ramanand Chattopadhyaya
C. L. Nowlakha

Description

The recto features the crowned figure of Balarama, half brother of god Krishna, who frequently features in south India as one of the ten incarnations of Vishnu. Holding his identifying attribute, the hala or ploughshare, Balarama directly faces the viewer, standing erect on a pedestal beneath a canopy of flower garlands and individual pendant flowers including full lotus buds. On the reverse is the standing form of the deep blue god Vishnu, in the form in which he is enshrined in the famous temple at Tirupati. Framed by a tiruvatchi or aureole crowned by a lion-head, he holds discus and conch shell in his two rear hands, while one front hand is in the varada gesture of wish-granting and the other rests lightly on his thigh.

Label

Devotional painting on cloth originally hung within a south Indian temple dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu. This painting (see also S1998.114) features Balarama, half-brother of the god Krishna, who frequently features in south Indian painting as one of Vishnu's ten incarnations. Holding his identifying attribute, the hala or ploughshare, Balarama stands beneath a canopy of flower garlands and hanging lotus buds. The figure's boldly conceived limbs, magnetic gaze, and gold ornaments endow the diminutive image with impressive power. In order to retain the brilliance of gold, the artist painted the deity's crown and jewels onto thin paper applied to the rougher cotton surface.

Published References
  • Thomas Lawton Thomas W. Lentz. Beyond the Legacy: Anniversary Acquisitions for the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. vol. 1 Washington, 1998. pp. 196-197.
Collection Area(s)
South Asian and Himalayan Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum