, Sarasvati, Goddess of Arts and Learning Enlarge 1 /1
Kalighat style Bengal, India, Calcutta
Sarasvati, Goddess of Arts and Learning c. 1860 Place made: Kalighat, Kolkata (Calcutta), West Bengal, India
Materials & Technique: paintings, watercolour, silver paint, pencil Support: paper
Dimensions: support 45.7 h x 27.6 w cm mount 48.4 h x 30.2 w cm
Acknowledgement: The Gayer-Anderson Gift 1954
Accession No: NGA 91.1326
Subject: Hindu Kalighat School 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.

Sarasvati is the goddess of arts and learning. An important figure in Indian art, the goddess is a serene and ancient form of the great mother goddess or Devi, the power of the universe and source of creation. She also personifies India’s ancient sacred Sarasvati River. Sarasvati is intimately associated with the supreme Hindu gods Brahma and Vishnu as consort to both. Here she is playing the vina. Sarasvati’s dark hair falls behind her body, just as ignorance is obscured by wisdom.

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