Krishna and the Golden City of Dwarka

Akbar sought to establish a cross-cultural intellectual milieu at his court. Fascinated by the wondrous stories and advice on kingship in Hindu epics, he had them translated into Persian and illustrated by his best artists. Here, the Hindu deity Krishna holds court within a resplendent palace. Meticulously applied areas of raised paint and minutely pricked indentations catch the light and heighten the palace’s golden gleam. Such finesse is evidence of the increased ability of Mughal artists in the 1580s to achieve the brilliant surface and minute details of Persian illustrations. Simultaneously, the pastoral scene below the palace convincingly captures the appearance of the real, a trait that becomes the Mughals’ most distinctive contribution to Indian painting.

Krishna and the Golden City of Dwarka
From a Harivamsa (Lineage of Vishnu)
Probably designed by Keshav Kalan (act. ca. 1570–1604) and painted by Miskin (act. late 1570s–ca. 1604)
India, Mughal dynasty, ca. 1585
Opaque watercolor, ink, and gold on paper
Freer Gallery of Art F1954.6