A seminal work in the artist’s early suite of pictures devoted to Brahmanic subjects, Saraswati represents Srimati’s “patron saint” in her pursuit of all the fine arts. The goddess is shown as a beautiful, youthful woman seated on the open petals of a lotus and playing a vina. In her raised hand she holds a rosary (mala) and in the lower hand a book in the traditional palm-leaf format (pustaka), invoking wisdom and knowledge. The background of billowing clouds became a signature motif of many of Srimati’s later figure studies. The painting, a majestic rendering of a perennial subject in Indian art, was exhibited in Srimati’s 1952 and 1955 Indian solo exhibitions. It appears in several studio photographs of the period as the centerpiece of the artist’s household shrine in the family’s Chennai residence, where Saraswati Puja was celebrated.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Mother India: The Goddess in Indian Painting," June 29, 2011–November 27, 2011.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "An Artist of Her Time: Y. G. Srimati and the Indian Style," December 15, 2016–June 18, 2017.