Shiva Nataraja

Detail of a pattern
Image 1 of 3

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At A Glance

On View
  • Period

    ca. 990
  • Geography

    Tamil Nadu state, India
  • Material

  • Dimension

    H x W x D (overall): 70.8 x 53.3 x 24.6 cm (27 7/8 x 21 x 9 11/16 in)
  • Accession Number



Object Details

  • Provenance

    By 1957-?
    Shiva Temple of Sri Bhava Aushadesvara,
    Tirutturaippundi, Tirutturaippundi Taluk, Tanjavur District, Tamil Nadu, India [1]
    Reportedly Rajrama Art Galleries, London, method of acquisition unknown [2]
    From 1973 to 2002
    Doris Wiener Gallery, New York, New York, reportedly purchased from Rajrama Art Galleries, London [3]
    From 2002
    Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, purchased from Doris Wiener Gallery, New York [4]
    [1] In the spring of 2023, the museum discovered that the sculpture was photographed in the Shiva Temple of Sri Bhava Aushadesvara, in Tirutturaiippundi taluk, Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu, India, in 1957; the original photograph is at the photo archive jointly run by the École Française d'Extrême Orient(EFEO)and the French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP). It is unclear when the sculpture left the Tamil Nadu temple.
    [2] See invoice provided by Doris Wiener Gallery, Inc., New York, dated March 10, 1973, from Rajrama Art to Doris Wiener Gallery, Inc., New York, copy in object file. On the invoice, the sculpture is described as "Dancing Shiva, Bronze, 12th century, South Indian, Size: 38"."
    [3] According to the Purchase and Sale Agreement, Doris Wiener acquired the object in London from Rajrama Art and then imported it into the United States in 1973, see purchase agreement, October 21, 2002. See also note 1. In a letter from Doris Wiener to curator Vidya Dehejia, Wiener notes that she saw the sculpture before her purchase, noting "The sales invoice from the London dealer, Rajrama Art Gallery, from whom I acquired the sculpture. The invoice is dated March 10th, 1973. Please note that I viewed and purchased the piece in London in 1972, several months prior to the date of purchase on the invoice" [sic]. See letter from Doris Wiener dated November 16, 1995, copy in object file,
    Furthermore, according to the Curatorial Justification written on June 19, 2002, "The bronze has been in the collection of Doris Wiener Gallery in New York City since 1973; [an individual] saw it at the gallery at that time." The Curatorial Justification also notes that the importation papers dated 1972 3 were reviewed and found satisfactory and that "The Director General of Archaeology of India during those years, has examined the Shiva Nataraja and assures us that it is not among those bronzes reported as
    stolen by Tamil Nadu temples." See Curatorial Remark 1 in the object record.
    [4] The object was accepted into the Freer Study Collection on July 2002. In September 2003, it was transferred to the Permanent Collection of the Freer Gallery of Art. See Acquisition Consideration Form, original copy in object file.
    Research updated April 20, 2023.
  • Collection

    Freer Gallery of Art Collection
  • Exhibition History

    Body Image (October 14, 2017 - ongoing)
    The Thief Who Stole My Heart: The Material Life of Sacred Bronzes in Chola India ca. 850-1280 (Monday, March 14, 2016 - Monday, January 30, 2017)
    Arts of the Indian Subcontinent and the Himalayas (October 16, 2004 to January 3, 2016)
    The Sensuous and the Sacred: Chola Bronzes from South India (November 10, 2002 to March 9, 2003)
    Sculpture of South Asia and the Himalayas (November 19, 1992 to July 9, 2017)
  • Previous custodian or owner

    Shiva Temple of Sri Bhava Aushadesvara, Tirutturaippundi, Tirutturaippundi Taluk, Tanjavur District, Tamil Nadu, India
    Rajrama Art Galleries
    Doris Wiener Gallery
  • Origin

    Tamil Nadu state, India
  • Credit Line

    Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment and funds provided by Margaret and George Haldeman
  • Type

  • On View

    Freer Gallery 01: Body Image: Arts of the Indian Subcontinent
  • Restrictions and Rights

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