jkirk at SPRO.NET
Sat Mar 11 16:17:16 UTC 2006
If this painting is in a Mumbai gallery, does it not suggest that it was
painted in India by an Indian artist? My guess (it's only that) is that it
was painted by a Christian artist,
perhaps wanting to indicate conversion, or just wanting to show the holy
family as Indians. I wonder why the Royal Mail never gave the artist's
name. Knowing the name would allow for a more persuasive "reading" of this
picture. Presumably it was signed, but then perhaps it was not.
The tilak on the man's forehead could be a slim version of a Vaisnava mark
in that it's vertical, but very attenuated and not typical. (Strikes me as
an artist's fancy.) (It's certainly not a full fledged Vaisnava tilak mark).
The general style of the picture strikes me as 10th-early 20th c, along the
lines of Chughtai or the Bengal School.
The Virgin and Child (no tilaks) were represented in 16th c and later Mughal
art and interior decoration (ceiling paintings). These representations were
inspired by the importation of holy family pictures by missionaries from
Europe, some of whom made
it to the court of Akbar and also to later courts. That tilaks were applied
in this case is a weird feature, considering the general run of such
depictions in India. It might have merely been an idiosyncrasy of the
An interesting mystery unless someone comes forward with the artist's name
and the name of the gallery, where some record giving provenance might be
Here you can see a Vaisnava tilak photo and a bit about the mark
Here a Shaivite tilaka mark and discussion
Generally speaking, Vaisnava marks are two verticals, often in a V shape,
and Shaiva marks are three horizontal lines. Sorry I don't know of any
specific scholarly study of these.
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