AN ILLUSTRATION FROM A BHAGAVATA PURANA SERIES: KAMSA BEGS FORGIVENESS OF VASUDEVA AND DEVAKI
AN ILLUSTRATION FROM A BHAGAVATA PURANA SERIES: KAMSA BEGS FORGIVENESS OF VASUDEVA AND DEVAKI
AN ILLUSTRATION FROM A BHAGAVATA PURANA SERIES: KAMSA BEGS FORGIVENESS OF VASUDEVA AND DEVAKI
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Property from a West Coast Private Collection
AN ILLUSTRATION FROM A BHAGAVATA PURANA SERIES: KAMSA BEGS FORGIVENESS OF VASUDEVA AND DEVAKI

INDIA, PUNJAB HILLS, KANGRA, ATTRIBUTED TO PURKHU, CIRCA 1820

Details
AN ILLUSTRATION FROM A BHAGAVATA PURANA SERIES: KAMSA BEGS FORGIVENESS OF VASUDEVA AND DEVAKI
INDIA, PUNJAB HILLS, KANGRA, ATTRIBUTED TO PURKHU, CIRCA 1820
image 12 3/8x 16 5/8 in. (31.4 x 42.2 cm.)
folio 14 ¼ x 18 5/8 in. (36.2 x 47.3 cm.)
Provenance
R.E. Lewis, Inc., San Francisco.
John Yeon Collection, Portland, acquired from the above in 1963.
Exhibited
Portland Art Museum, Quest for Beauty: The Architecture, Landscape and Collections of John Yeon, 13 May-3 September 2017.

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Hannah Perry
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Lot Essay

In this early scene from book ten a Bhagavata Purana series, the tyrant king Kamsa visit Krishna's birth parents Vasudeva and Devaki. Kamsa had heard a prophecy that his sister Devaki's eighth born son will be his demise, so he imprisons the couple and slaughters their newborn children. Their eighth son Krishna is born during their imprisonment, but spirited away to his foster parents Nanda and Yashoda in the middle of the night. They replaced the newborn with a female infant, who manifests into a wrathful goddess to terrify Kamsa as he comes to slaughter her. She then tells him that Krishna has already been born and his fate is sealed. Kamsa in this scene is shown visiting the couple, begging for forgiveness.
The present folio belongs to a large format Mahabharata series attributed to the Kangra court artist, Purkhu. 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, Mahabharata and the present Bhagavata Purana series.
Another painting from this series sold at Christie's New York, 23 March 2022, lot 469, for $100,800. The painting shares a similar composition, though represents a scene from the end of book ten of the Bhagavata Purana, as Krishna and Balarama liberate their parents.

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