Sundaram, New Delhi, India. 
From 1968 to 2001
Ralph Benkaim (1914-2001), Beverly Hills, California, purchased from Sundaram, New Delhi, India. 
From 2001 to 2018
Catherine Glynn Benkaim, Beverly Hills, California, by inheritance from Ralph Benkaim in 2001. 
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, partial gift and purchase from Catherine Glynn Benkaim. 
 Ralph Benkaim purchased the painting from Sundaram, New Delhi, several years before Indian paintings were classified as antiquities by the Indian government, according to his personal records via Catherine Glynn Benkaim.
 See note 1.
 See note 1.
 See Acquisition Consideration Form, object file, Collections Management Office.
- Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)
Ralph (1914-2001) and Catherine Benkaim
Catherine Glynn Benkaim
Sundaram New Dehli, India, active 1960's
Verso: birāvar rāgīnī 3
In Central India, a minimalist yet evocative school of painting rather mysteriously emerged in the seventeenth century. Over the course of the century, the style and the palette of Malwa painting grew gradually more complex, as seen here in the elaborately decorated pavilion and its flamboyant garden.
Vilaval ragini is a joyous musical mode, embodied as a smiling woman looking at herself in a mirror as she gets ready to meet her lover. The interior room is a bright red, which harkens back to an earlier style of painting, the exterior is exuberant, with ornate decorations and polychrome. Flowers bloom magically outside the pavilion under a pitch-black sky.
Raga (Sanskrit, color or passion) is the term for a classical music mode, a set framework for improvisation. Having originated in the first millennium, ragas were systematized and classified during the thirteenth through sixteenth century, they were classified into ragamalas, meaning garlands of musical modes. A common system recognized six raga husbands, each "married" to five ragini wives for a total of thirty-six "families." Families of musical modes sometimes included sons or ragaputras as well. By the fifteenth century, ragas had become associated with specific moods, times, seasons, affective properties, deities, lovers, and heroes. Around 1590-1620, illustrated ragamala series became a favorite subject for Rajput patrons, as well as for some Mughals, such as Abd-ur Rahim, patron of the Freer Ramayana and the Laud Ragamala. Specific iconographies were developed for depicting each mode. These formulae lent themselves to variations, which were sometimes dependent on region.
Illustrated ragas evoke mood and engender feeling, as do musical compositions. But the connection seems to be indirect. Although some connoisseurs of music may have internally "heard" a composition when viewing its image, ragamalas were probably more broadly valued for their poetic and pictorial pleasures. The commission of a ragamala series would also have been understood as a sign of a patron's cultivated sensibility.
- Collection Area(s)
- South Asian and Himalayan Art
- CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)
Usage Conditions Apply
Chrome users: right click on icon, select "save link as..."
Internet Explorer users: right click on icon, select "save target as..."
Mozilla Firefox users: right click on icon, select "save link as..."
International Image Interoperability Framework
IIIF Manifest Data/Viewers