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Image: Parvati and Ganesha

Parvati and Ganesha

Parvati and Ganesha, ca. 1820 in Jaipur, India, "The technique used in this charming formal portrait of a nursing mother is European, but the subject is characteristically Indian. The young mother in the guise of an aristocratic Rajput lady is Parvati, the wife of Shiva, and the nursing infant is their son Ganesha. In contrast to the "human" mother, who seems to be posing for the artist on a throne placed on a balcony, the child's divinity is emphasized by his pink complexion, white elephant's head, and four arms. Nevertheless, like a human baby, he suckles one of his mother's nipples while fondling the other. So individualized is the face of Parvati, despite the third eye, that one wonders if the artist used a living model. He certainly observed European pictures and mastered the technique of spatial perspective and frontal view, moving away from the tradition of presenting the profile of the subject. The rendering of the curtain also reflects familiarity with European oil paintings. However, the use of the strident blue sky with wispy clouds and the intricate detailing of the architectural forms, garments, and jewelry are typically Indian."

credit: The Walters Art Museum