Rare 18th Century ndian Scroll In Virginia Museum from Andhra Pradesh, India

Renowned Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) in Richmond (USA) has acquired a rare 18th-century legend scroll from Andhra Pradesh (India), one of the few of its kind to survive today.

Dr. Joseph M. Dye III, VMFA’s curatorial chair, reportedly says it is a “rare and unrivaled painting” that is “dramatically” longer than other known examples and is clearly the work of a master atelier. “I can say with complete confidence that this is the greatest South Indian painting that I have seen in my 42-year professional career.”

This Museum already has a large collection of Hindu arts and artifacts, which reportedly includes “Krishna and the Gopis” (Kangra miniature painting,1790), “Vishnu’s Great Vision of Shiva” (Punjab hills miniature painting, around 1810), “Shiva and Parvati accompanied by their sons Ganesha and Karttikeya” (Bengal watercolor,1860), “The Creation of the Universe: Vishnu and Lakshmi on Sesha, the Cosmic Serpent, floating on the multitudinous seas” (Guler watercolor, around 1770), 20th-century votive image of standing Shiva in brass, Shiva Nataraja (late 1100s sculpture from Tamil Nadu), Ganesha (early 1100s Hoyshala sculpture), “Ashtasahasrika Prajnaparamita” (three pages from the manuscript from East India around 1150), “Krishna and Balarama arrive in Brindaban” (watercolor,1585), Ramayana (double-sided watercolor, around 1900), etc.

Hindus have commended VMFA for efforts to educate the world about Hinduism through various art forms. Acclaimed Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that art had a long and rich tradition in Hinduism and ancient Sanskrit literature talked about religious paintings of deities on wood or cloth. It was an admirable attempt of VMFA to provide avenues to the public to look deeper into concepts of Hinduism, which was the oldest and third largest religion of the world rich in philosophical thought, Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, pointed out.

VMFA has organized Hinduism related exhibitions in the past, including “God, Hero and Lover: Representations of Krishna in Indian Painting” of 17-19th century jewel-like miniature opaque watercolors of all-encompassing Krishna, which form part of its extensive collection of Hindu paintings. Another was “Picturing Philosophy: An illustrated manuscript from 18th-century India”, highlighting the 1763 Jnaneshvari manuscript depicting commentary on ancient Hindu scripture Bhagavad-Gita.

It has also launched an online exhibition about Indian paintings reportedly from its collection, which includes “Krishna and His friends celebrate Holi in the forests of Brindaban” (Mewar watercolor, 1710-20), “The pining Radha”,  “Krishna and Radha”,  “Krishna slays the horse demon Kesi”,  “The search for Sita”,  “Shiva Ardhanarishvara”,  “Karttikeya”, “Krishna distributes butter to the monkeys”, “Celebrations in honor of Krishna's birth”, “Shiva manifesting within a linga of flames, worshiped by Brahma and Vishnu”,  “Rama and Lakshmana meet”,  “Krishna adorning Radha's hair”, “Krishna dancing in joyous abandon”, etc.

Meanwhile, Rajan Zed urged major art museums of the world, including Musee du Louvre and Musee d'Orsay of Paris, Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Los Angeles Getty Center, Uffizi Gallery of Florence (Italy), Art Institute of Chicago, Tate Modern of London, Prado Museum of Madrid, National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, etc., to frequently organize Hindu art focused exhibitions, thus sharing the rich Hindu art heritage with the rest of the world.

VMFA “Friends of Indian Art” group, formed in 1992, has reportedly supported the museum’s collection of Indian and South Asian art with contributions of more than $300,000 for 23 art objects and gifts. Mimi Dozier is the Coordinator. VMFA, launched in 1936, which has achieved an international reputation for creative excellence and innovative programming, houses a collection of world art ranging from antiquities to contemporary art. Alexander Lee Nyerges is the Director and Mrs. Richard S. Reynolds III is President of the Board of Trustees of VMFA whose mission is “to enrich the lives of all”. 
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