Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Oil painting - Copy of painting inside the caves of Ajanta (Cave 2)
  • Copy of painting inside the caves of Ajanta (Cave 2)
    Griffiths, John, born 1837 - died 1918
  • Enlarge image

Copy of painting inside the caves of Ajanta (Cave 2)

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Aurangabad (made)

  • Date:

    1881-1883 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Griffiths, John, born 1837 - died 1918 (artist)
    Bombay School of Art (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on canvas

  • Museum number:

    IS.4-1885

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This is a copy of a painting in the chapel inside cave 2 at Ajanta. The chapel is dedicated to the ‘yaksha’ (nature-spirit) couple Hariti and Kubera. They are depicted in stone in the centre of the chapel. The walls on either side are covered with paintings like this one, which show visitors taking offerings to the couple.

The Ajanta cave complex was discovered in 1819 and attempts were made to document the paintings inside them. In 1844 Major Robert Gill was commissioned to make copies. Unfortunately most of the paintings he completed were destroyed in a fire in 1866. To make up for this loss, from 1872 to 1885 John Griffiths from the Bombay School of Art and seven Indian students spent every winter at the caves. This is one of the approximately 300 paintings they produced.

Physical description

This painting depicts a mountainous landscape in the background with several groups of people in the mid and foreground. To the left of the painting is a man, possibly a Yakhsa figure (male nature spirit) who wears a jewelled crown, sits on a cushion and holds a flower in his hand. In the centre is a group of four people, one male jester carrying a stick with three curves and three women, the one on his right holds a flywisk and wears an elaborate headdress. She is probably an attendant to one of the other women. In the bottom left hand side there is a group of three children, two of them are holding chikens. In the top left hand side there is a genie floating up in the air.

Note: This may have been damaged by fire in the bottom left hand corner as in Zin's book more of the painting is evident in the cave and the figures in that part of the painting are intact.

Place of Origin

Aurangabad (made)

Date

1881-1883 (made)

Artist/maker

Griffiths, John, born 1837 - died 1918 (artist)
Bombay School of Art (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Oil on canvas

Dimensions

Height: 2605 mm, Width: 2305 mm, Depth: 35 mm, Height: 2630 mm with frame, Width: 2340 mm with frame, Depth: 45 mm with frame

Object history note

Commissioned by the Government of India between 1872-1885 and deposited in the India Museum, London

Historical significance: The paintings inside the Ajanta caves tell stories of the lives of the Buddha. This painting is from the right hand side chapel inside cave 2. The chapel is dedicated to the Yaksha couple Hariti and Kubera who are depicted in stone in the centre. On either side of the stone depiction are paintings across the walls, of which this is one. The paintings depict visitors taking offerings to the Yaksha couple.

Historical context note

The cave paintings of Ajanta are the oldest surviving examples of painting in India. They depict scenes from the lives of the Buddha and date from the 1st century BC to about AD 480. The cave complex was discovered in 1819 and since then attempts have been made to document the paintings inside them. In 1844 Major Robert Gill was commissioned to make copies. Unfortunately most of the paintings he completed were destroyed in a fire in 1866. To make up for this loss, from 1872, John Griffiths from the Bombay school of Art and seven Indian students spent every winter for the following 13 years at the caves producing approximately 300 paintings, of which this is one.

Descriptive line

Copy of painting in the caves of Ajanta by John Griffiths and students from the Bombay School of Art

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Griffiths, J, The paintings in the Buddhist cave temples of Ajanta, India, 1896
Zin, M, Guide to the Ajanta Paintings, Vol.2, New Delhi, 2003.
Burgess, J, Notes on the Bauddha Rock-Temples of Ajanta, Bombay, 1879

Production Note

Painted by John Griffiths and students from the Bombay School of Art

Materials

Canvas

Subjects depicted

Buddhism

Categories

Buddhism; Paintings; India Museum

Collection

South & South East Asia Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.