Copy of painting inside the caves of Ajanta (cave 2) thumbnail 1
Not currently on display at the V&A

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

Oil Painting
1881-1883 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This is a copy of a painting in cave 17 at Ajanta. The white patches cover fragile areas that require conservation work. These cave paintings date from the 1st century BC to about AD 480 and are the oldest surviving examples of painting in India. They depict stories from the lives of the Buddha (the Jatakas) but the scene shown here is unidentified.

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.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Additional TitleCopy of painting inside the caves of Ajanta (generic title)
Materials and Techniques
Oil on canvas
Brief Description
Copy of painting in the caves of Ajanta by John Griffiths and students of the Bombay School of Art.
Physical Description
This scene is set in a rocky, green landscape. There are five women in the centre, some of them are holding offerings in their hands. The two in the centre and the one on the right hand side are wearing ornate head-dresses and jewellery. They are wealthy women taking offerings to the shrine.



Below them in the bottom left hand corner are a group of four seated children playing a game and there are two more children on the right hand side playing with sticks.



Above them in the top right hand corner is a fat genie flying towards the shrine, carrying gifts and in the top left hand corner are two men who are likely to be Brahmakayikas, from the heaven of Brahma, as they wear simple clothes like that of an ascetic.
Dimensions
  • Height: 2605mm
  • Width: 2400mm
  • Depth: 36mm
  • With frame height: 2630mm
  • With frame width: 2429mm
  • With frame depth: 43mm
Object history
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 left 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
The cave paintings of Ajanta are the oldest surviving examples of painting in India. They depict stories from the lives of the Buddha (the jatakas) 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.
Production
Painted by John Griffiths and students from the Bombay School of Art
Subject depicted
Place Depicted
Summary
This is a copy of a painting in cave 17 at Ajanta. The white patches cover fragile areas that require conservation work. These cave paintings date from the 1st century BC to about AD 480 and are the oldest surviving examples of painting in India. They depict stories from the lives of the Buddha (the Jatakas) but the scene shown here is unidentified.



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.
Bibliographic References
  • Griffiths, J, The paintings in the Buddhist cave temples of Ajanta, India, 1896
  • Burgess, J, Notes on the Bauddha Rock-Temples of Ajanta, Bombay, 1879
  • Zin, M, Guide to the Ajanta Paintings, Vol.2, New Delhi, 2003.
Collection
Accession Number
IS.30-1885

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record createdAugust 11, 2005
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