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Four Centuries of Paintings and Manuscripts from the Indian Subcontinent

CAT. NO. 63

Radha spies on Krishna dancing with other women Rajput (Jaipur), c.1800

Folio from a series of the Gita Govinda (see cat. no. 60) | Painting in opaque watercolour including gold and silver metallic paints and gold leaf with decorative incising on paper; set into painted margins on paper | 33.7 × 43.5 cm (folio); 27.0 × 36.8 cm (image) | RCIN 1005114.v

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Written in the yellow band above the image are the lyrics of the third verse of the third song of the Gita Govinda, sung with raga vasanta:

Soft sandal mountain winds caress quivering vines of clove.
Forest huts hum with droning bees and crying cuckoos.
When spring’s mood is rich, Hari [Krishna] roams here to dance with young women.
A cruel time for deserted lovers, my friend.[203]

Out in the forest, enjoying the spring breezes, Krishna is seen first accepting paan (a stimulant) from a beautiful young woman then dancing joyfully with another. The lovelorn Radha spies on him and faints at the sight. At the centre, peeping out of the bushes, is the poet Jayadeva who hold his finger to his mouth, originally an Iranian artistic convention denoting an emotional reaction (see cat. nos 9 and 43). 

  • [203] Gita Govinda 2008, p. 74.

  • From an album presented to Edward VII when Prince of Wales by Mangaldas Nathubhai in Bombay, 1875