Abhisarika Nayika

Detail of a pattern
Image 1 of 1

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At A Glance

  • Period

  • Geography

    Mewar, Rajasthan state, India
  • Material

    Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
  • Dimension

    H x W (painting): 20 × 36.2 cm (7 7/8 × 14 1/4 in)
  • Accession Number



Object Details

  • School/Tradition

    Mewar school
  • Description

    In this painting, Radha represents an abhisarika, a woman who fearlessly braves the dangers of the night to meet her lover.
    Beneath clouds bristling with lightening and in a driving rain, Radha hurries across a rocky landscape, bunching her skirt up to keep it dry, even as snakes coil around her ankles. Four demons, one of whom breathes fire and another who wields a scythe, are in her path. On the painting’s upper left, Krishna, resplendently dressed in a fine muslin jama and gold turban, and with a yoga patta around his legs to help him sit comfortable, awaits Radha’s arrival from within a pavilion with a brilliant red interior.
    The saffron-clad yogi in the cave at the upper right, who depicts a comparison within Keshav Das’ verse, embodies Radha’s equanimity in the face of danger.
  • Inscriptions

    Recto: Five lines of nagari on a yellow panel at the top of the page.
    Recto: Five lines of nagari on a yellow panel at the top of the page.
  • Provenance

    From least ca. 1964-1965 to ?
    Bikaner Royal Collection, Bikaner, India [1]
    Kundus Gallery, San Francisco, CA, method of acquisition unknown [2]
    Ralph Benkaim (1914-2001), purchased from Kundus Gallery [3]
    Catherine Glynn Benkaim, by inheritance from Ralph Benkaim [4]
    From 2018
    Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, purchase and partial gift from Catherine Glynn Benkaim [5]
    [1] On the verso of the work, there are crossed-out Bikaner Royal Collection stamps. The Bikaner Royal Collection started stamping their painting collection ca. 1964-1965. When the object entered and exited the Bikaner Royal Collection is unknown. See curatorial notes titled “Abhisarika Nayika,” dated May 2019, pp. 12-13, copy in object file.
    The Maharajas of Bikaner was the stewards of the Bikaner Royal Collection.
    [2] See note 1. Debra Diamond, Curator for South and Southeast Asian Art, visited Gary Crawford, the owner of Kundus Gallery, in San Francisco in 2012 or 2014, but Crawford was unable to remember the paintings that passed through his collection.
    Kundus Gallery was a gallery in San Francisco, CA, specializing paintings, sculptures, and textiles from India, Nepal, and Tibet, as well as functional objects. Gary Crawford and his elder brother, Dale Crawford, established Kundus Gallery in 1973, but the gallery closed sometime prior to 2015. The brothers made regular trips to Nepal and India to acquire objects. In the latter half of the 1980s, Dale Crawford had a gallery in London, England.
    [3] See note 1.
    Ralph Benkaim was an entertainment lawyer from Los Angles who started collecting Indian and Islamic art in 1961.
    [4] See note 1.
    Catherine Glynn Benkaim is a collector and scholar in the field of Indian painting. Ms. Benkaim met her husband, Ralph Benkaim, in the 1970s when she was the curator of Indian painting at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The couple were married 1979 and together they amassed a collection of Indian paintings, which included examples from all genres. They collected objects for their collection through dealers and auctions. Objects from their collection may also be found in the Cleveland Museum of Art, Williams College Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and the Minneapolis Institute of Art, among others.
    [5] See “Appendix B Bill of Sale” and “Appendix C Donor Substantiation Letter,” dated January 2, 2018, copy in object file.
    Research updated January 27, 2023
  • Collection

    National Museum of Asian Art Collection
  • Previous custodian or owner

    Bikaner Royal Collection
    Kundus Gallery (established 1973)
    Ralph Benkaim (1914-2001)
    Catherine Glynn Benkaim
  • Origin

    Mewar, Rajasthan state, India
  • Credit Line

    Purchase and partial gift from the Catherine and Ralph Benkaim Collection — funds provided by the Friends of the Freer and Sackler Galleries
  • Type

  • Restrictions and Rights

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