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12. Illustration to the Bhagavata Purana: Pradyumna Weds Rukmavati
Nepal
circa 1775
Ground mineral pigments on paper
Image: 13 ¼ x 20 in. (33.7 x 50.8 cm.)
Folio: 14 ⅜ × 20 ½ in. (36.5 × 52 cm.)
Illustration to the Bhagavata Purana: Pradyumna Weds Rukmavati

Provenance:
Private American collection, by 1972.

Published:
Himalayan Art Resources (himalayanart.org), item no. 7505.

The present painting is from an important series depicting the exploits of Krishna as described in Book Ten of the Hindu epic, the Bhagavata Purana. The Bhagavata Purana chronicles the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu, each of whom must save the world from danger, destroy evil, and protect virtue. Shown here is Krishna’s son Pradyumna–the incarnation of Kama, the god of love–marrying the beautiful Rukmavati. Their son, Aniruddha, later becomes embroiled in a love affair with the princess Usha, starting a war between his grandfather, Krishna, and Usha’s demon father, Banasura.

The holy city of Dwarka, home of Krishna, appears sprawled across the folio in a stunning birds-eye view comprised of multiple perspectives—a characteristic feature of this Nepalese series. Pradyumna and Rukmavati are depicted in the center of a large wedding celebration, surrounded by a myriad of attendants and courtiers. Pradyumna–identifiable by his characteristic blue skin symbolic of his relation to Krishna—is adorned with a golden crown and wreathed in flowers as he grasps the arm of his bride. See a painting from the same series at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (acc. 2019.64) depicting Pradyumna with his first wife, Mayavati, entering Dwarka for the first time.

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