Dhanasri Ragini

Historical period(s)
ca. 1680
Bundi or Raghogarh school
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
H x W (painting): 23.5 × 18.4 cm (9 1/4 × 7 1/4 in) H x W (overall): 31.2 × 24.5 cm (12 5/16 × 9 5/8 in)
India, Rajasthan state, Bundi or Raghogarh
Credit Line
Purchase and partial gift from the Catherine and Ralph Benkaim Collection — funds provided by the Friends of the Freer and Sackler Galleries
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


India, painting, pavilion, portrait, ragamala, Ralph and Catherine Benkaim collection, woman

To 1971
Chhote Bharany, New Delhi [1]

From 1971 to 2001
Ralph Benkaim (1914-2001), purchased from Chhote Bharany, New Delhi in December 1971

From 2001 to 2018
Catherine Glynn Benkaim, Beverly Hills, California, by inheritance from Ralph Benkaim in 2001

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


[1] All of the Benkaim Bharany paintings were bought in the United States, according to Catherine Glynn Benkaim May 23-24, 2016, who further notes that the dealer Chhote Bharany had two children who went to school in California and he had relatives in NYC. Gurshuran Sidhu reported that Bharany took all of his paintings out of India before the Emergency (most probably in 1969) and kept them with William Wolff in New York.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Chhote Bharany New Dehli, India
Catherine Glynn Benkaim
Ralph and Catherine Benkaim


Dhanasri Ragini has the emotion of longing for one's absent beloved; the painful feeling (Sanskrit, viraha) is one of the central emotions explored in Indic poetry and music. The musical mode of Dhanasri is often represented as a lady recalling drawing a portrait of her lover. Arranged at her feet are a row of seashells, which artists used for mixing pigments, two bowls for water and two rectangular boxes for holding brushes. The empty in the chamber to the heroine's right emphasizes her lover's absence.

A few female artists are known, and the iconography of Dhanasri (as well as several famous episodes in Sanskrit classical literature) indicates that the idea of women drawing was widely imaginable.

The planarity of the scene, its deep, rich palette, and its narrow-headed, wide-eyed heroines are elements of painting in the small court of Raghogarh, where artists produced compositions that were often ultimately based upon Mughal compositions. In this painting, the sandstone pavilion, with its star-pattern tile floor, interior niches, voluminous red and green curtain tied up at the ceiling, (as well as the yellow-bordered red canopy shading the heroine) are simpler and more graphic versions of Mughal prototypes.

Collection Area(s)
South Asian and Himalayan Art
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

This image is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

The information presented on this website may be revised and updated at any time as ongoing research progresses or as otherwise warranted. Pending any such revisions and updates, information on this site may be incomplete or inaccurate or may contain typographical errors. Neither the Smithsonian nor its regents, officers, employees, or agents make any representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the information on the site. Use this site and the information provided on it subject to your own judgment. The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery welcome information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.