Carved in deep relief with extraordinary detail, this impressive stele of Vishnu demonstrates the masterful craftsmanship of twelfth century artists working in Northwestern India. Temple construction by the twelfth century witnessed an embellishment of sculptural form, rendering deities with full iconographic detail. The present figure of Vishnu is shown here in all his glory, holding his principal attributes and surrounded by an entourage of his avatars, attendants and other deities.
This fine sculpture can be compared with a slightly earlier and more fragmentary stone figure of the androgynous form of Shiva and Parvati in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art Collection (P. Pal, Indian Sculpture Vol. 2, Los Angeles, 1988, p.128, fig.54). Both works demonstrate similarly modeled physiognomy and elaborate jewelry, as well as the design of the nimbus. For further comparison, see a black stone figure of Vishnu sold at Christie's New York on 19 March 2013, lot 261 for $50,000. Once again, the artist has emphasised the prowess of the deity through a strong frontal pose with wide shoulders and hips, protruding chest, nipped-in waist and straight sturdy legs, and a halo with a triangulated rim. In a much greater state of preservation than the two comparable examples, the present sculpture's detailed carving, pleasing size and complete condition make it a superb example of medieval Northwestern Indian sculpture.