A COPPER ALLOY FIGURE KRISHNA, THE BUTTER THIEF TAMIL NADU, CHOLA PERIOD, CIRCA 13TH CENTURY

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Lot 645
A COPPER ALLOY FIGURE KRISHNA, THE BUTTER THIEF
TAMIL NADU, CHOLA PERIOD, CIRCA 13TH CENTURY

Sold for US$ 35,075 inc. premium
A COPPER ALLOY FIGURE KRISHNA, THE BUTTER THIEF
TAMIL NADU, CHOLA PERIOD, CIRCA 13TH CENTURY
4 1/4 in. (10.8 cm) high

Footnotes

  • With only one other Chola 'Baby Krishna' published, the present lot is possibly the first of this crawling, 'butter thief' subject to be identified from the Chola period—making the sculpture of considerable importance. The other 'Baby Krishna' depicts him lying on his back, sampling one of his toes (Nagaswamy, Masterpieces of South Indian Bronzes, Ahmedabad, 1983, p.162, pl.174; repeated in Nagasway, Timeless Delight, Ahmedabad, 2006, p.227, fig.4). The present bronze shows the divine child as a mischievous crawling infant absconding with a butterball in his right hand. But for a leaf-shaped hairpin, jeweled bangles, and a harness with an elaborate kirtimuka fastening and a charm box protecting the child from evil, he is otherwise naked so that the viewer can admire the well-nourished physique of a healthy baby boy.

    Though the butter thief subject is known from many examples in the Vijayanagara period (14th-17th centuries), the larger scale, superior detail, and advanced modeling of this bronze correspond to the Chola period—regarded as the golden age of South Indian sculpture. For example, compare the oval facial type and rounded limbs of three 13th-century Chola sculptures of differing subjects published in Dehejia, The Sensuous and the Sacred, Seattle, 2002, pp.153-5, 160 & 168, no.28, 31 & 36. Meanwhile, contrasting Vijayanagara Krishnas are located in the Norton Simon Museum (M.1977.30.10.S) and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (M.72.1.16).

    Provenance
    Private Newport Beach Collection, acquired 1962
    Private West Coast Collection since 2005
Contacts
A COPPER ALLOY FIGURE KRISHNA, THE BUTTER THIEF TAMIL NADU, CHOLA PERIOD, CIRCA 13TH CENTURY
A COPPER ALLOY FIGURE KRISHNA, THE BUTTER THIEF TAMIL NADU, CHOLA PERIOD, CIRCA 13TH CENTURY
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