Janmastami celebrating the birth of Krishna

Calcutta Art Studio

Not on view

Janmastami marks the annual festival celebrating the birth of Krishna, most widely observed across northern India, from Rajasthan to Bengal. The night of his birth is marked by the recitation of the Bhagavata Purana, especially those passages of Book 10 devoted to his childhood. The scene depicted tells of the demonic ruler of Mathura, Kamsa, who received a prophecy that he would be usurped by a child born of his sister Devaki. When Devaki delivered Krishna, her husband Vasudeva spirited the newborn out of the palace and hastily crossed the Yamuna River. In this dramatic depiction, we see Vasudeva carrying the newborn infant across the Yamuna River to safety in the village where he was entrusted to foster parents. Rainstorms and lightning fill the night sky, and a wild dog lurks in the shadows. A shaft of light illuminates the riverbank for the heroic figures, as if a divinely lit pathway. Vasudeva cradles the newborn in his shawl as he hastens to safety. The dramatic characterization of his figure, and the storm ridden night sky, take their inspiration from European book steel engravings of biblical subjects.

Janmastami celebrating the birth of Krishna, Calcutta Art Studio, Lithograph printed in black and hand-colored with watercolor, selectively applied glaze, West Bengal, Calcutta

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