A ILLUSTRATION FROM A RUKMINI HARAN SERIES: KRISHNA ON THE ROAD TO KUNDINAPURA
A ILLUSTRATION FROM A RUKMINI HARAN SERIES: KRISHNA ON THE ROAD TO KUNDINAPURA
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A ILLUSTRATION FROM A RUKMINI HARAN SERIES: KRISHNA ON THE ROAD TO KUNDINAPURA

NORTH INDIA, PUNJAB HILLS, GARHWAL, ATTRIBUTED TO MOLA RAM, CIRCA 1800

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A ILLUSTRATION FROM A RUKMINI HARAN SERIES: KRISHNA ON THE ROAD TO KUNDINAPURA
NORTH INDIA, PUNJAB HILLS, GARHWAL, ATTRIBUTED TO MOLA RAM, CIRCA 1800
Folio 7 1⁄2 x 10 5⁄8 in. (19.1 x 27 cm.)
Image 7 x 10 in. (17.8 x 25.4 cm.)
Provenance
Balak Ram, Srinagar, acquired by descent from the artist.
Mukandi Lal, Allahabad, acquired from the above in 1953.
Sotheby's New York, 15 March 2017, lot 310.
Literature
M. Lal, Garhwal Painting, New Delhi, 1968, pp. 84-85, no. XXII.

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Lot Essay

The Rukmini Haran, part of the Bhagavata Purana, is among the most popular series to be illustrated in the Garhwal court, with at least three sets known to have been produced circa 1800. The epic tells the story of the marriage of Krishna and Rukmini, a princess betrothed to the king Shishupala, despite her longings to be with Krishna. The present scene shows Krishna departing Dwarka after Rukmini sends him a Brahmin messenger to plan an elopement. Krishna is strategizing with the Brahmin as his charioteer Daruka leads them to Rukmini at Kundinapura. On the red banner is a figure of Hanuman. The curvilinear skyline framing the rounded chariot and arching leaps of the famed horses Saibya, Sugrive, Meghapushpa and Balahaka create a balanced composition, leading the viewer's eyes towards Krishna, despite being off center.
The series has been attributed to Mola Ram (c. 1743-1833), who introduced the Kangra style into the Garhwal school of painting around 1777, and lead the Kingdom’s workshop until the Gorkha invasion in 1804. He was trained by his father Mangat Ram in the Mughal style until visiting Sansar Chand’s (c. 1765-1824) court at Kangra at the age of 25. There he was exposed to the qalam of the great masters of the Pandit Seu family and adopted the Kangra style and motifs.
The activist and politician Mukandi Lal is credited with elevating Garhwali art history in public light, becoming an authority on, and enthusiastic collector of, Garhwali painting and the artist Mola Ram in particular. Mukandi Lal acquired thirteen of the fifteen paintings from the current series from Balak Ram, the great-grandson of Mola Ram. These thirteen paintings, including the present lot, were all published in 1968 in Garhwal Painting; the two remaining paintings were acquired by the scholar J.C. French in 1930.
Other paintings from this series, previously from the collection of Mukandi Lal, are at the Brooklyn Museum of Art (acc. no. 86.227.202), and the Edwin Binney III Collection at the San Diego Museum of Art (acc. nos. 1990.1087 and 1990.1088). Another illustration from the Gloria Katz and Willard Huyk Collection sold at Sotheby’s New York, 22 March 2002, lot 72. A similar Garhwal painting depicting the same scene is in the collection of the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco (acc. no. BD85D5).

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