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On display on Level 1

Kalighat style Bengal, India, Calcutta
Lakshmi, Goddess of Prosperity and Beauty, lustrated by elephants [Gajalakshmi] [The goddess Lakshmi lustrated by elephants] 1855-60 Place made: Kalighat, Kolkata (Calcutta), West Bengal, India
Materials & Technique: paintings, watercolours, watercolour, silver paint watercolour on paper
Dimensions: support 38.8 h x 28.0 w cm mount 41.5 h x 30.6 w cm
Acknowledgement: The Gayer-Anderson Gift 1954
Accession No: NGA 91.1316
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.

Born of the churning of the Ocean of Milk when the gods created the nectar of immortality, Lakshmi is the goddess of prosperity and beauty. She is the chief consort of the god Vishnu. Here she is seated on the lotus throne on which she rose from the ocean. On either side of the goddess, the elephants that emerged with her sprinkle water from the holy River Ganges. Charged with holding up the four corners of the world, the elephants also symbolise good fortune.

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