25

Attributed to Harkhu, Illustration from an Ashta-Nayika, Guler or Chamba

Opaque pigment on paper heightened with gold

Image 20.7 x 15.1 cm. ; folio 27.8 x 22.3 cm. Circa 1800-1810

With intense concentration Krishna delicately applies henna to the toes of his beloved Radha. Krishna’s submission to Radha follows the stormy relationship between the two and this act is one of the many conducted by Krishna to demonstrate his devotion. The artist has amplified Krishna’s noble act by placing him kneeling barely under cover of the canopy while using his scarf to support her foot and capture any drips of henna. By contrast Radha sits on a golden throne and rests against a silver brocaded bolster framed and protected by the architecture. Despite her fury at Krishna’s past acts, she gazes upon him lovingly from beneath her shimmering golden veil. Typical of the scene an elderly female attendant gestures her disbelief at the lowly act being carried out by Krishna. Several attributes of the painting and its composition are consistent with the work attributed to the artist Harkhu, son of Nikka and grandson of Nainsukh. Most notably are the flat and angular profiles, sharp narrow eyes, textiles (veil and turban types), architectural arrangements and landscape that all fit within the style favoured by the artist. The only exception is the treatment of the elderly attendant whose full spherical breasts and surrounding jewellery and textiles are consistent with the work ascribed to Nikka (father of Harkhu) by Ohri. However, the facial type of all three figures are a distinct departure from the type favoured Nikka and therefore an attribution to Harkhu seems more certain.