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A Rare Bronze Group of Krishna the Regal Cowherd with Consorts
Aschwin de Lippe (1914-88) After museum and university experience in Berlin through 1945, Aschwin de Lippe came to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, as a Senior Research Fellow in 1949 and became an Associate Curator in 1950, Research Curator in 1965, and Curator Emeritus in 1973. Unfortunately his interest in and knowledge of wen-jen painting at this relatively early date was not used in the development of the then dormant Chinese painting collection. More and more his interest turned to Indian art, especially to the sculpture of South India. In this new area he made many contributions, combining careful scholarship with an always present connoisseur's flair. In the 1970's Aschwin and Simone moved to Paris, where they rehabilitated a most attractive old apartment in the Marais. Their more recent travels to India were revealed in a group of bronze, stone and wood sculptures attesting to knowledge, taste, and daring. The most elegant sophisticated works were rivaled by provocative creations of folk art. Through all the collection and furnishings one could still see a core of Western culture, but all were held together by knowledge and tradition. No trace of fashionable decor was to be seen, only the civilized environment of a reconciled East and West. [...] Aschwin's and Simone's conversational styles were equally creative and pleasurable, hers rather effervescent and intense, his a measured staccato with ironic overtones. Both possessed a distinct sense of humor, always an endearing trait but even more so in the academic or the scholar. Aschwin Lippe represented a tradition of enlightened scholarship rooted since the eighteenth century in the dispassionate pursuit of knowledge and culture, embedded in an equally long gradation of taste and connoisseurship. His contribution to our knowledge of Chinese painting and Indian sculpture place us in his debt. Sherman Lee, Archives of Asian Art, vol. XLII (1989) Property from a European Estate
A Rare Bronze Group of Krishna the Regal Cowherd with Consorts


A Rare Bronze Group of Krishna the Regal Cowherd with Consorts
South India, Chola Period, 12th Century
Depicting Krishna with his consorts Rukmini and Satyabhama, all standing in sinuous tribhanga wearing incised garments of patterned bands and secured with elaborate sashes, beaded necklaces and armlets, their faces with a benign expression surmounted by tall chignons, the consorts each in mirrored pose with one arm outstretched along the body and holding a lotus flower in the other; the bases of Krishna and Satyabhama replaced in wood
Krishna 9 1/8 in. (23.1 cm.) high including replaced wood base; Rukmini 9 3/8 in. (23.8 cm.) high (3)
Collection of Prince and Princess Aschwin zur Lippe-Biesterfeld, acquired in 1965.
A. Headington, 'Private World of a Prince: Oriental flair in a Paris apartment,' Connoisseur, July 1988, p. 53, illustrated.

Lot Essay

Krishna's left arm is raised as if resting on Satyabhama's shoulder in a gesture of affection. Rukmini, as the elder wife, wears a breastband and more compact coiffure. While modeled individually, they form a harmonious group, linked by rhythmic movement; compare with the important group at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, in P. Pal, Indian Sculpture, vol. 2, 1988, p. 277f., and a further group joined by a common base, in P. Pal, Asian Art at the Norton Simon Museum, vol. 3, 2004, p. 260f., cat. no. 186.

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