, The baby Krishna [Balakrishna] Enlarge 1 /1
Kalighat style Bengal, India, Calcutta
The baby Krishna [Balakrishna] [Balakrishna] 1855-60 Place made: Kalighat, Kolkata (Calcutta), West Bengal, India
Materials & Technique: paintings, watercolour, silver paint watercolour and silver paint Support: paper
Dimensions: support 42.7 h x 27.7 w cm mount 46.0 h x 30.5 w cm
Acknowledgement: The Gayer-Anderson Gift 1954
Accession No: NGA 91.1324
Subject: Kalighat School Hindu Deities
  • Acquired in Dundee, Scotland, by Colonel Thomas Gayer Gayer-Anderson, 1953
  • held in the collection of Colonel Thomas Gayer Gayer-Anderson and the late Major Robert Grenville Gayer-Anderson, Pasha, both of The Little Hall, Lavenham, Suffolk, England, 1953
  • who gave it to the Commonwealth of Australia, 1953
  • held by National Library of Australia, Canberra, after transfer from London, 1954-1991
  • transferred to the collection of the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 1991.
  • The collecting history of this painting is partial. The earliest known transaction is its acquisition by the donor in Scotland in 1953. The National Gallery of Australia welcomes further information regarding its history of ownership prior to 1953.

Krishna is recognisable by his blue skin. According to legend, the youthful Krishna was notoriously mischievous. In one incident, Krishna banished the demon serpent Kaliya, who lived in the nearby river and terrorised the neighbourhood. Playing his flute, Krishna leapt onto Kaliya’s back and danced there until the demon was overcome by his weight. The serpent’s wives begged Krishna for mercy. During the combat Krishna was bitten by Kaliya and the venom turned his skin blue.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2011
From: Asian gallery extended display label