AN ILLUSTRATION FROM A KRISHNA LILA SERIES: THE NAYIKA ATTENDING HER DAILY BEAUTY RITUALS
PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE GERMAN COLLECTION
Jaipur, Rajasthan, North-Western India, ca. 1820 - 1840
Opaque pigments heightened with gold on paper, the horizontal composition depicting a scene from a Krishna Lila series, marked as number 22 in the cusped yellow cartouche on the lower-right corner, the yellow epigraphic cartouche at the top filled with poetic love couplets of black ink Braj Bhasha dialect, the one at the bottom filled with an explanation of the above couplets in Rajasthani dialect, mounted on cardboard, glazed and framed, 27.8cm x 39cm excluding the frame.
This illustration follows the previous lot and comes from the same early 19th-century Rajasthani Krishna Lila series. It can be conceived as a sister-scene to illustration no. 7, The Nayika Bringing a Token of Her Affection to the Nayaka and it depicts a very intimate moment. Krishna arrives at the nayika's palace just in time to catch her during her beauty routine on the palace's terrace. The heroine is surrounded by her loyal attendants holding a fan, a peacock's feather fly-whisk, and several lidded and encrusted golden boxes containing cosmetic powders and essences for the nayika to use. She is untangling her long black hair and applying a perfumed balm, her gaze locked into Krishna's one. The god is holding a lotus flower in his hand, confirming his affection for the nayika.
The composition sets the heroine at a clear advantage over her lover: not only she is on a raised register (palatial terrace), but she is also portrayed enthroned and in her element, boasting her femininity and sensuality. Her confidence transpires in her facial expression and posture. Both her lover and one of the female attendants by the pool in the foreground raise their fingers and point at the nayika: she is the unquestionable queen of the illustration.
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