A PICCHVAI OF THE HAVELI OF SHRI NATHJI DURING THE ANNAKUT FESTIVAL NATHDWARA, LATE 19TH CENTURY

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Lot 3238W
A PICCHVAI OF THE HAVELI OF SHRI NATHJI
DURING THE ANNAKUT FESTIVAL
NATHDWARA, LATE 19TH CENTURY

Sold for US$ 75,000 inc. premium
A PICCHVAI OF THE HAVELI OF SHRI NATHJI
DURING THE ANNAKUT FESTIVAL
NATHDWARA, LATE 19TH CENTURY
Opaque watercolor on cotton.
54 1/4 x 58 1/4 in. (138 x 148 cm)

Footnotes

  • Set within a backdrop of dry and verdant rolling hills, pink and mint green rock faces, the banks of the Banas river, and arboreal ensembles that mimic excited peacocks stands the haveli (or mansion) of Shri Nathji: the court of the divine child-king Krishna at Nathdwara in Rajasthan.

    This vast complex is the chief pilgrimage site of its devoted sect, founded by Saint Vallabhacharya around 1500, and seen here preparing for its most important annual festival, Annakut. At the center of the palace, a herd of hennaed and hand-printed cows can be seen arranged below a pile of cow dung and plantain trees, meant as a symbolic representation of Mount Govardhana for them to tread on, recalling by ritual a key myth expressing Krishna's supremacy as a deity.

    The picchvai, with the complex's asymmetrical, labyrinthine network of interlocking courtyards, corridors, shrines, apartments, and antechambers, is one of the largest and best examples illustrating the much amusing and beguiling approach by the Indian painter towards architectural perspective, attempting to simultaneously merge competing views from directly above, whilst also giving a sense of each building's scale and elevation from the side.

    The sacred complex of Shri Nathji does not resemble a typical Hindu temple, possibly so as to disguise from unwanted attention during Muslim invasions and persecutions in the region, but more likely because of the Vallabhacharya's emphasis on seva (or service), which is to treat images of Krishna like a royal personage. By way of attributing a date, the inclusion of the Moti Mahal, with its large guarded exterior gate in the bottom left corner and inner courtyard of plentiful trees near the upper left, indicates the picchvai was obviously painted sometime after it was built in 1861.

    Such picchvais that show the entire scared complex arranged for one of the many festivals were painted for pilgrims to take home in remembrance of their spiritual encounters with divinity. A closely related example of the same subject was offered by Christie's, New York, 16 September 2008, lot 488. Another smaller and later version on paper in the Ambalal Collection is published in Ghose, Gates of the Lord, Hong Kong, 2015, p.76-7, no.13. Lastly, a version in miniature format on paper was sold at Sotheby's, London, 4 April 1978, lot 316.

    Published
    Jerry Losty and Francesca Galloway, Sringar: An Exhibition Celebrating Divine and Erotic Love, London, 2007, p.73, no.28.
    Simon Ray Ltd, Indian & Islamic Art, London, 2008, no.90.

    Provenance
    Francesca Galloway Ltd, London, 2007
    Simon Ray Ltd, London, 3 November 2008
Contacts
A PICCHVAI OF THE HAVELI OF SHRI NATHJI DURING THE ANNAKUT FESTIVAL NATHDWARA, LATE 19TH CENTURY
A PICCHVAI OF THE HAVELI OF SHRI NATHJI DURING THE ANNAKUT FESTIVAL NATHDWARA, LATE 19TH CENTURY
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