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AN ILLUSTRATION TO A MAHABHARATA SERIES: VIDURA CONFERS WITH DHRITHARASHTRA
AN ILLUSTRATION TO A MAHABHARATA SERIES: VIDURA CONFERS WITH DHRITHARASHTRA
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AN ILLUSTRATION TO A MAHABHARATA SERIES: VIDURA CONFERS WITH DHRITHARASHTRA

INDIA, PAHARI HILLS, ATTRIBUTED TO PURKHU, CIRCA 1820

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AN ILLUSTRATION TO A MAHABHARATA SERIES: VIDURA CONFERS WITH DHRITHARASHTRA
INDIA, PAHARI HILLS, ATTRIBUTED TO PURKHU, CIRCA 1820
Image 12 7/8 x 18 in. (32.7 x 45.7 cm.)

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Lot Essay

Owing to the patronage of Maharaja Sansar Chand (r. 1775-1823) and the artistic direction of Purkhu (active c. 1780-c.1820), Kangra is remembered as a great center of Pahari miniature painting. A skilled portrait artist, Purkhu is lauded for his distinguished and individualized portraits within his works, often noted for veering towards journalistic goals over idealized or fantastical qualities. His works documenting the public and private life of Sansar Chand are thus unsurprisingly rigorous in their attention to detail, and one can assume, loyalty to accuracy. Notwithstanding, Purkhu’s works on religious themes have proved his capability for innovation and passion, creating large series on the Harivamsa, Shiva Purana, Ramayana, Kedara Kalpa, Gita Govinda, and the present Mahabharata series.
This panoramic illustration depicts the blind King of Hastinapur, Dhristarashtra conferring with Vidura, the highest advisor of the Pandavas. The rival Kauravas and Pandavas congregate with weapons at the ready, each character identified by a faint Devanagari inscription. In many narrative paintings ascribed to Purkhu and his workshop, diagonals are employed freely in the composition and architecture is a dominant characteristic. Such is the case with the present painting, where several balconies and terraces, walls and connecting courtyards appear, peopled with multiple figures.
An illustration from Purkhu’s Gita Govinda series sold at Christie’s New York, 17 March 2021, lot 436 for $575,000. For further biography on Purkhu and discussion of his works, see B.N. Goswamy and E. Fischer, Pahari Masters, New Delhi, 2009 (reprint), pp. 368-387.

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