Dana Lila: The taking of the Toll

Historical period(s)
ca. 1660
Bundi school
Opaque watercolor on paper
H x W (painting): 24.1 × 15.9 cm (9 1/2 × 6 1/4 in) H x W (overall): 28 × 20 cm (11 × 7 7/8 in)
India, Rajasthan state, Bundi
Credit Line
Purchase and partial gift from the Catherine and Ralph Benkaim Collection — funds provided by the Friends of the Freer and Sackler Galleries
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


Gopi, India, Krishna, Ralph and Catherine Benkaim collection

To 1966
Doris Wiener Gallery, New York [1]

From 1966 to 2001
Ralph Benkaim (1914-2001), Beverly Hills, California, purchased from Doris Wiener Gallery, New York in June 1966 [2]

From 2001 to 2018
Catherine Glynn Benkaim, Beverly Hills, California, by inheritance from Ralph Benkaim in 2001

From 2018
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, partial gift and purchase from Catherine Glynn Benkaim

[1] Ralph Benkaim purchased the painting from Doris Wiener Gallery, New York in June 1966, several years before Indian paintings were classified as antiquities by the Indian government, according to his personal records, as relayed by Catherine Glynn Benkaim.

[2] See note 1.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Doris Wiener Gallery
Ralph (1914-2001) and Catherine Benkaim
Catherine Glynn Benkaim


Just as the sun sets over the trees, Krishna teases the gopis by demanding they pay him a toll in order to cross the Yamuna River. Krishna says that he will only take the milk the gopis carry in the small pots on their heads and playfully tries to grab one. Twisting away from - but also turning towards - the blue-skinned god, the milkmaids refuse to give up the milk that they had planned to sell the milk at market. After playfully arguing all night, Krishna finally wins the debate in the morning. The gopis surrender not only the milk, but also their bodies and minds into the service of the god.

The episode unfolds in a grove by the Yamuna river, which appears, lotus-filled and swirling, in the foreground. At the upper right, the setting sun is a spiky red form. The artist created a verdant setting with flowering trees, but also left the ground between the two central trees red, a stylistic decision that harkens back to earlier painting (such as the Chawand Ragamala, ca 1605, F1991.1) and draws the viewer's attention to Krishna.

The composition represents a shift from pre-Mughal conventions. The artist broke the planarity of earlier compositions by placing the feet of the three figures at different levels, and twisting their bodies, which gives a sense of movement through space.

Collection Area(s)
South Asian and Himalayan Art
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