Description This picture is from a series of images depicting "Gajendramoksha" (Liberation of the Elephant-King). This story, like those that explain the heroic feats of the avatars of Vishnu, serves to demonstrate Vishnu's willingness to help when invoked by a person or even an animal with sincere faith. Once, while a herd of elephants was cavorting in a river, their leader was attacked by a crocodile. The elephant immediately began calling Vishnu, and so intense was the animal's faith that the god appeared on earth and saved him. Here, an unknown artist has given us an expressive rendering of the vicious attack in a most imaginative manner. The elephants are drawn with telling realism, but the crocodile is purely a creature of fantasy and is dragon-like in appearance. The behavior of the elephants--a mother protects two babies, another feeds on lotuses, and others amble beyond the shoreline--reveals familiarity with the pachyderm, but the water, the rocks, and the sky are rendered conceptually, though with expressiveness. Most unusual is the simultaneous depiction of a cloudburst and a sunburst. The dark clouds with streaks of lightning send down sheets of rain, but they also clear the way for the sun to appear as a human head with golden rays riding a chariot drawn by white steeds.
- Desire and Devotion: Art from India, Nepal, and Tibet in the John and Berthe Ford Collection. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara; Albuquerque Museum, Albuquerque; Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham; Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong. 2001-2003.
Provenance John and Berthe Ford, Baltimore [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Walters Art Museum, 2001, by gift.
Credit Gift of John and Berthe Ford, 2001
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