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An Illustration to a Nala-Damayanti Series

An Illustration to a Nala-Damayanti Series

Item Description:

REGISTERED ANTIQUITY - NON-EXPORTABLE ITEM (Please refer to the Terms and Conditions of Sale at the back of the catalogue)

Bhima Prepares a Feast for the People

Kangra, North India, c. 1830-1850

Opaque pigment on paper

Image 10 1/4 x 13 7/8 in. (26 x 35.2 cm.), folio 12 1/8 x 15 5/8 in. (30.8 x 39.7 cm.)


For another version of this same composition, see Daniel J. Ehnbom, Indian Miniatures from The Ehrenfeld Collection, New York, 1985, no. 122.

Inscribed 'Sri maharaja ne jana ko dham khuayi hai. 3./ Sri maharaja Bhim ne jana ko dham diti hai. 3' in Nagari on reverse. 'The Maharaja threw a feast for the people. [folio number] 3. / Sri Maharaja Bhima threw a feast for the people. [folio number] 3.'

The current folio belongs to a series that illustrates the famous love story of Nala and Damayanti. Specifically, it depicts the Brahmins relishing the wedding feast after the marriage of the hero and heroine. The priests eat in a palace courtyard, whilst Bhima, Damayanti's father, and his brother watch from the palace interior, shown at the top left of the painting. In the lower right, more guests are seen arriving; each washing their hands and feet before entering the feast. The guests' belongings are stored in a columned arcade to the side of the palace courtyard. The painting captures the joy and excitement at a wedding gathering, replete with amusing details, such as the priest in the lower right; his gaze longingly fixed into the eyes of the girl who pours water to help wash his hands.

The painting is a complete version of a primed drawing which is now part of the collection of The San Diego Museum. The drawing is part of a series of forty-seven paintings and forty-eight drawings, dated to c. 1800, that are now widely dispersed. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston has twenty-nine of these pages, formerly in the Collection of Ananda Coomaraswamy. Another similar version of the same scene is also in the Museum of Fine Arts (accession number 17.2401). The current lot is not quite as refined as the folios listed above, as evidenced by the rendering of the facial features. This treatment, along with the use of ultramarine tones, may suggest a later date for the work. It would, therefore, be safe to ascribe a date closer to the middle of the 19th century for this work.

‡ Registered Antiquity - Non-exportable Item. Please refer to the Terms and Conditions of Sale.

* Antiquity or Art Treasure - Non-exportable Item. Please refer to the Terms and Conditions of Sale.


The colours of the original are richer and brighter than the catalogue illustration. There are minor creases along the top edge and to the lower right of the painting, which are partially visible in the catalogue illustration. Minor spots of pigment loss on the dhotis and shawls of
the seated figures to the lower left of the painting and further minor pigment losses within the dhotis of the figures to the lower right, partially visible in the catalogue illustration. Overall good condition.

₹ 400,000.00 ( Low est. )
Lot 13‡* in The Fine Art Sale including Classical Paintings (M0029)
AUCTION DATE: Jan 21, 2021 at 6:30pm IST



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