Krishna and Balarama Fight the Enemy
Harivamsa, c. 1590-95, Mughal India.



Krishna and Balarama Fight the Enemy
Mughal: probably Lahore, period of Akbar
(r. 1556- 1605), ca. 1590-95
Page from a dispersed Harivamsa (Genealogy of Vasudeva Krishna)
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
11⅝ x 7 in. (29.4 x 19.9 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NewYork
Purchase, Edward C. Moore Jr. Gift, 1928 (28.63.3)

Akbar was fascinated by various religions and ultimately formulated his own eclectic faith. A number of Hindu epics were translated and illustrated in his atelier. It is interesting to compare this page with catalogue number 4, which illustrates a similar scene. Both images convey the might of the opposing armies by presenting a mass of warriors, but their treatments of space differ radically. In the early work space is shallow and difficult to read. Here, however, the recession of forms in space is clearly conveyed: it begins with the foreground melee, articulated by means of contrasting pattern, color, and tone; continues into the relatively uncluttered middle ground, where the blue-skinned Krishna aims his arrow at the enemy; and concludes in a deep landscape in which the opposing troops muster. The artist has not yet adopted atmospheric recession or chiaroscuro, two European painterly methods that were soon to enter the repertoire of Mughal artists.

Source: p.38, Indian Court Painting, 16th-19th Century by Steven Kossak
via Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York



See also 'Krishna Battles the Armies of the Demon Naraka' from a Bhagavata Purana, Delhi, c.1520-30, India *
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