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An Indian painting of the child Balarama, Tajore c.1810-20

Painted on cotton

Width: 52cm
Height: 65cm

Inscription: A note pinned to the painting, in Sir John Summerson's hand, 'Mr Falk from the India Office library identified this as The Adoration of the Child Balarama / Painting on cotton / 65 x 52 cm / South India, Tanjore, circa 1810-20'. Summerson added (incorrectly) 'not in Soane's inventory. Connection with Soane extremely doubtful'. The note probably dates from the 1970s.

Museum number: X148

Curatorial note

This is the only example of a non-European picture in Soane's collection. It appears in a manuscript draft inventory of the 'Contents of closet left side of doorway leading from Museum into Dressing Room' dated 22 April 1837 (a few months after Soane's death) listed as 'tin case with painting of sundry idols'. The tin case would have been a cylindrical one, designed to hold an architectural plan or drawing rolled up, which probably explains the poor condition of this item. It is listed in the Soane Museum 'AB' inventory, 1837 (p.338) as 'A tin case containing a painting on canvas of a Mexican idol?'. The two descriptions imply that Soane and his assistant George Bailey (who drew up the inventories and became the first Curator of the Museum), knew nothing about its origins.

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