As Passion Took Over
Page from a dispersed series of the Gita Govinda (Song of the Dark Lord) of Jayadeva
Artist/maker unknown, India
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From the final chapter of the Gita Govinda series, this painting depicts Radha and Krishna in their forest love nest. The verse on the back of the page describes them at the threshold between foreplay and intercourse. Radha grabs Krishna's hand, both delaying and encouraging his fondling; she shyly bends her head, but meets his eyes with an upward glance. Such visual ambiguity escalates the mood of passionate anticipation. Their playful courtship battle heightens their eventual union, a union symbolizing the merging of the human soul with God. At some point in its history, about half of this painting was cut away and the stretch of river and hills that would have emphasized the lovers' isolation was lost. Although probably made in Nainsukh's family workshop, this series does not show that master painter's love of individualization; instead this artist prefers to move entirely into the dream world of earthly perfection characteristic of late-eighteenth-century painting from the Panjab Hills.