Sadashiva worshipped by Parvati

citation

Wearing a snow-leopard skin draped over his shoulders, Sadashiva sits with the goddess on a mauve-petalled lotus floating against an orange-colored ground. Dominating the composition, his large, ash-white body captures the focus of the viewer’s attention as well as that of the goddess, whose gaze is fervid and alert. The five-headed deity has eight arms that hold (clockwise from the top right) a drum, snake, noose, bell, axe, grain sheath, trident, and sword.

Maker(s)
Artist: Attributed to Devidasa (Indian, active 1690 - 1695)
Historical period(s)
ca. 1690
School
Nurpur school
Medium
Opaque watercolor, gold, and applied beetle wing on paper
Dimensions
H x W (Image): 19.1 × 18.4 cm (7 1/2 × 7 1/4 in)
Geography
India, Himachal Pradesh, Nurpur
Credit Line
Purchase and partial gift from the Catherine and Ralph Benkaim Collection — funds provided by the Friends of the Freer and Sackler Galleries
Collection
Ralph and Catherine Benkaim collection
Accession Number
S2018.1.1
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Painting
Type

Painting

Keywords
India, Parvati, Ralph and Catherine Benkaim collection, Shiva
Provenance

To 1973
Marjory or Marjorie Buckle, Hong Kong [1]

From 1973 to 2001
Ralph Benkaim (1914-2001), Beverly Hills, California, purchased from Marjory or Marjorie Buckle in New York in June 1973 [2]

From 2001 to 2018
Catherine Glynn Benkaim, Beverly Hills, California, ownership was transferred after the death of her husband, Ralph Benkaim in 2001 [3]

From 2018
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, partial gift and purchase from Catherine Glynn Benkaim [4]

Notes:

[1] It is very likely that this widely-exhibited and well-published painting was in a Hong Kong collection prior to September 1972.

[2] In 1973 this and other Indian paintings were in the collection of Marjory Buckle, an American who lived in Hong Kong. When she decided to disperse her collection, she contacted Willie Wolff, a New York City dealer who specialized in Asian sculpture, not painting. According to correspondence between Catherine Glynn Benkaim and Debra Diamond in June 2016: when Ralph Benkaim was in New York City in 1973, Willie Wolff brought the paintings to his attention. Ms. Benkaim does not know the exact date of Mr. Benkaim’s New York City visit because the trip took place prior to their marriage. Mr. Benkaim’s handwritten records indicate that he signed the check in June 1973. There is no paperwork indicating if the check was directly made out to Marjory Buckle and/or if the paintings were shipped directly from Hong Kong to Los Angeles.

Everything argues for a somewhat protracted process: it is unlikely that a westerner in the 1970s (other than a handful of well-known professional dealers) could have amassed a collection of Indian paintings in a few months (that is, acquiring after September 1972, when Indian paintings were first listed as antiquities, and then selling by June 1973). Wolff did not take the Buckle paintings on consignment because he did not deal in paintings, and Wolff only mentioned the paintings to Ralph Benkaim when they met in New York City. According to information from Catherine Glynn Benkaim to Debra Diamond in June 2016.

[3] See Acquisition Justification Form, object file, Collections Management Office.

[4] See note 3.

Previous Owner(s)

Marjory Buckle American, living in Hong Kong
Catherine Glynn Benkaim
Ralph and Catherine Benkaim

Description

Wearing a snow-leopard skin draped over his shoulders, Sadashiva sits with the goddess on a mauve-petalled lotus floating against an orange-colored ground. Dominating the composition, his large, ash-white body captures the focus of the viewer's attention as well as that of the goddess, whose gaze is fervid and alert. The five-headed deity has eight arms that hold (clockwise from the top right) a drum, snake, noose, bell, axe, grain sheath, trident, and sword.

Inscription(s)

Written on verso: No. 3

Label

Sadashiva is one of the most transcendent forms of the great Hindu deity Shiva. Within the Agama texts of orthodox Shaivism (Shaiva Siddhanta), he is the supreme deity and a higher level of the cosmos in which there are no distinctions among person, body, and world. His five heads represent five streams of knowledge, ranging from the highest Siddhanta teachings to the least venerated Vaishnava Tantras.
One of Sadashiva's most important acts was the transmission of teachings from subtle realms into language that could be accessed by humans. Because the Tantras were typically structured as conversations between a deity and his consort, this painting evokes Sadashiva's role as the revealer of esoteric knowledge.

Published References
  • Debra Diamond. Yoga: The Art of Transformation. Exh. cat. Washington, DC. 1E, 112-113.
  • Catherine Glynn Benkaim. "Early Painting in Mandi". XLIV, 1. Zurich. 27, 30.
  • Dr. Stella Kramrisch. Manifestations of Shiva. Exh. cat. Philadelphia. P-30, 194-195.
Collection Area(s)
South Asian and Himalayan Art
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum