Mar 12, 2014

Vaishnava Devotee with Two Women

Vaishnava Devotee with Two Women

c. 1890

Gum tempera, graphite, ink, and tin on paper

Painting only: 45.4 x 27.8 cm (17 7/8 x 10 15/16 in.)

Gift of William E. Ward in memory of his wife, Evelyn Svec Ward 2003.101



Here a devotee of Vishnu is wearing shoes and is depicted with some irony as being a fashionable devotee, or perhaps merely posing as orthodox. Kalighat artists often targeted hypocritical Vaishnava mendicants whose intentions with unsuspecting women were far from innocent. On his forehead one finds sectarian marks worn by worshippers of Vishnu. The man’s right hand and one of the women’s left hands, both held aloft, are colored red, possibly to indicate that they were adorned with henna.

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