Explore Collections Explore The Collections
You are here: CollectionsOnline  /  ‘The Hindu Deity Camadeva with his mistress on a crocodile’
top left corner
top right corner
bottom left corner
bottom right corner
image Image 1 for A12
image Image 2 for A12
image Image 3 for A12
image Image 4 for A12
image Image 5 for A12
  • image Image 1 for A12
  • image Image 2 for A12
  • image Image 3 for A12
  • image Image 4 for A12
  • image Image 11 for A12

Thomas Banks (1735 - 1805), sculptor

‘The Hindu Deity Camadeva with his mistress on a crocodile’

c.1794

Painted plaster

Museum number: A12

Curatorial note

Kamadeva ('Camadeva' was the spelling Soane used), the Hindu god of love, prepares to fire one of his flower-tipped arrows of desire from his sugarcane bow, strung with honey bees, as his wife Rati (passion) advises him on his choice of target. Kamadeva is usually shown riding a peacock or parrot and Banks may have chosen a crocodile as a more sculptural support.

The title of the sculpture is taken from Banks’s studio sale of 1805 (lots 66, 67, 68) which records, in plaster, the mould and a cast. The items in the sale probably did not include this plaster version for it is referred to in 1830 by Soane in a way that implies it was a gift from the sculptor: ‘For the beautiful Model of a dying Patriot, and the cast of the Creshna of the Indians, I am indebted to my esteemed friend the late Thomas Banks, R. A.’.1 The sculpture is shown in an earlier sketch of c.1822-5 on top of the bookcases on the East side of Soane’s Library.2

By 1826 the sculpture was on display in a prominent position in the 'Lobby to the Breakfast Room' which Soane created in c.1824-25 on the ground floor of his Museum.

The origins of this group are suggested by the lotting up of it by Christie’s in 1805 with models for two chimneypieces for Warren Hastings that had been exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1792 (cats. 46, 47). The former Governor General of Bengal may have suggested the subject to Banks with a view to its reproduction for the Indian market.

A loose sketch of the same composition by the sculptor John Flaxman’s, presumably made from memory in 1794, inscribed by him T. Banks, is pasted in a sketchbook and album used by Flaxman in Rome between 1787-94 (John Murray Collection).

1. Soane, Description, 1830 p. 3.
2. SM Vol. 82, 5. The sheet is watermarked 1822 but most of the drawings in the Volume are dated 1825

This note is based on the entry written by Dr Julius Bryant, with the assistance of Helen Dorey, Deputy Director of Sir John Soane's Museum, for the exhibition Thomas Banks: Britain's first modern sculptor, Sir John Soane's Museum, 2005.


If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: worksofart@soane.org.uk