Lot 28
  • 28

Radha consoled by Krishna in a forest at night, an illustration from the "Lambagraon" Gita Govinda series, attributed to Purkhu or his circle, Kangra, circa 1820

50,000 - 80,000 GBP
353,000 GBP
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  • gouache and drawing on paper
  • painting: 23.5 by 31.2cm.
    leaf: 28.2 by 36.1cm.
gouache with gold on paper, nagari inscription on painted surface above Radha's head, blue inner border with gold foliate scroll, pink-speckled outer border, reverse numbered 34 with 21 lines of nagari text


Sotheby's London, 14 October 1980, lot 308.

Catalogue Note

This lyrical scene is from the so-called "Lambagraon" Gita Govinda series, named after Maharaja Dhrub Chand of Lambagraon, Kangra, a descendant of Raja Fateh Chand, for whom the series may have been produced. The romantic night scene and the rich, fecund landscape are typical of a series that fully celebrates in visual form Krishna's amorous adventures in the forests with Radha and the Gopis.

Long associated with Kangra circa 1820 to 1825, the series has been attributed to the artist Purkhu, the leading artist at the court of Raja Sansar Chand (r.1775-1823), or his immediate circle (see Goswamy and Fischer 2011; Seyller and Mittal 2014, p.280-2; see also Losty 2012, p.30 for a nuanced opinion). Goswamy and Fischer describe the series thus:

"In the elegantly colored and richly conceived Kangra Gita Govinda series of c.1820, Purkhu and his associates seem to enter a different mode for in it not only are human emotions interpreted - the many moods of the lovers, their situations in love, now devoid of hope, now filled with joy - but also nature is celebrated with rare abandon. .... A landscape of the imagination is created: fragrant and drenched in color to form the perfect background against which the drama of passions is played out." (Goswamy and Fischer 2011, p.728).

The series is somewhat more direct in its eroticism than earlier ones, an aspect that may have prompted the English traveller William Moorcroft, who visited the court of Sansar Chand in 1820 (and while there saved the life of Fateh Chand, Sansar's brother) to remark that "Many subjects from the Mahabarut (sic) are given in details, some of which for decency's sake might have been spared, yet there were few of the latter description." (Moorcroft and Trebeck 1841, quoted in Archer 1973, vol.I, p.308).

Other illustrations from the series are widely dispersed in a number of private and institutional collections including the National Museum, Delhi, the Rietberg Museum, Zurich, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum and the San Diego Museum of Art (Edwin Binney 3rd Collection). Others have been sold in our New York rooms, 6 October 1990, lot 55-56, 27 March 1991, lot 27, and 20 March 1997, lot 4 (now in the Rietberg Museum, Zurich).

For further discussion of the series see Goswamy and Fischer 2011; Seyller and Mittal 2014, no.98, pp.280-2; Losty 2012, nos.10-11, pp.35; Goswamy and Smith 2005, no.105, pp.246-7; Mason 2001, no.87, pp.202-203; Ehnbom 1985, nos.125-6, pp.250-1; Archer 1973, vol.I, pp.307-8, nos.67(I)-67(iii); vol.II, pp.230-1, nos.67(I)-67(iii).