The Divine & the Profane
Publisher: Francesca Galloway
Dimensions: 31 x 24.7 cm
The boundaries between the sacred and the 'profane', or the divine and the human, are frequently blurred in Indian art - one could even conjecture that they are intrinsically linked. Within this collection, for example, we have a miniature of the god Krishna making love in a luscious forest with Radha, his beloved Gopi (milk-maid) from the cowherd village where he grew up (cat.11), and a painting supposedly of the god Sri Brihnathji accompanied by a worshipper and an attendant (cat. 15 & detail opposite page), but where all three figures seem to share the distinctive profile of the very human Maharao Arjun Singh of Kotah. Sometimes it is almost as if the very act of artistic representation imbues an individual with a kind of deific power.
Similarly, commercial motives are often bound up with artistic and religious ones. Cat. 40 is an Indian-made embroidery for the Portuguese market depicting flowers and animals in the Bengali style, but with the powerful Christian symbol of a selfwounding pelican at its centre.
Divine or profane, each piece was made with a different audience in mind, and thus
has its own special character and allure.