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This very fine and interesting painting shows a tall and elegant Krishna with his arm around Radha, his consort. Maidens, or possibly Krishna’s gopis, are on each side. Several play musical instruments while others spray the illustrious couple with red-dyed water from syringes known as pichkari. Others still have handfuls of red gulal powder that they intend to throw. All the participants are beautifully costumed and have elaborate jewellery, none more than Krishna himself, who also holds a thin flute to his mouth. The pichkari in the foreground are unusually elaborate and seen to have double-barrels are draw on large water flasks. Also in the foreground are two tubs of gulal powder balls, ready to be thrown. Some of these can be seen above the figures, flying through the air.
Holi is a popular spring festival, also called the ‘Festival of Colours’, and is celebrated around India. Bonfires are lit at night on the first day. And on the second day, known as Dhulandi, people throw or spray red-coloured powder and water at each other. People also invite one and other to their houses for feasts and celebrations late into the evening.
Originally, the colours used in the pichkaris came from the flowers of trees that blossomed during spring, such as the Indian Coral Tree and the Flame of the Forest. Both have bright red flowers. Most of the blossoms used were also believed to have medicinal properties.
Images of Holi are among the most sought after of Indian miniatures. The joyous, festive scenes and the drama of red water flying across the scene makes such images particularly decorative and collectable.
The painting is in excellent condition and is unframed.
Terlinden, C., Mughal Silver Magnificence, Antalga, 1987.
Topsfield, A., Court Painting at Udaipur: Art under the Patronage of the Maharanas of Mewar, Ebehard Fischer, 2001.