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Krishna and Two Women
Rajput School (1500-1899)
10 7/8 x 12 1/2 in. (27.6 x 31.8 cm)
Medium and Support:
Opaque watercolor, ink, and gold paint on paper
Gift of Mrs. Samuel Gould
Location: Not currently on view
Krishna is one of the most popular and revered gods in the Hindu religion, worshipped as the eighth avatar, or incarnation, of the god Vishnu. In art, Krishna, which literally means "black" or "dark as a cloud," is usually portrayed with blue-black skin. As a youth, he appears as the divine lover surrounded by adoring gopis, or female cowherds.
Although Krishna's favorite of his many lovers was the beautiful gopi Radha, he was frequently careless of her affections. This image probably refers to a specific episode in their relationship: Radha, jealous of Krishna's attentions to other gopis, refuses to rejoin him in the forest. Krishna in turn makes an impassioned plea to Radha's friend, who intervenes and encourages their reunion.
The cult of Krishna held as a distinctive trait the exploration of divine and human love. In literature and myth, his youthful flirtations with the gopis are interpreted as symbolic of the loving interplay between God and the human soul.