The child Krishna mischievously stealing butter. Pigment, gesso and gold on board; 108 cm x 78 cm. Thanjavur, Tamilnadu. c. late 18th century. 7/201(A).
Thanjavur, modern Tanjore, is famous for a rare kind of painting on glass and gesso work on board. Both these types are richly embellished with gold leaf and imitation or real gems as ornaments. The relief work of this painting is achieved by applying gesso, which is a mixture of gypsum or plaster of Paris and glue.
Here Balakrishna, or “child” Krishna, adorned with jewels and a peacock feather in his hair, is shown mischievously enjoying his stolen butter. He is seated on a gilded throne against an arched background and guarded by winged angels holding garlands. As his mother chides him with a raised finger, Krishna’s hands tighten possessively on the stolen pot of butter.