John Eskenazi, Ltd., London
European Private Collection, acquired in 2001
Gaja Lakshmi, the Goddess of Fortune, is venerated as a bringer of good fortune and well-being to the earth, of which she was an early personification. She wears a long transparent chiton with delicate pleats pooling on the base, beaded jewelry, large hoop earrings, and stylized mural crown. The two elephants that lustrate her with water from pots held in their trunks symbolize the rainclouds of the monsoon and, thus, a successful harvest. This aspect is further emphasized by the cornucopia cradled in her left arm—derived from the Greek Tyche or Roman Fortuna. The diminutive figure of a supplicant kneels at her right foot and her recumbent trusty lion supports her as a throne.
Two related examples are at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (acc. nos. 1989.236.4 and 1991.407.2). Two other related sculptures from the Alsdorf Collection are published in Pal, P., A Collecting Odyssey, Indian, Himalayan, and Southeast Asian Art from the James and Marilynn Alsdorf Collection, Art Institute of Chicago exhibition catalogue, 1997, nos. 243 and 244. Dr. Pal notes of the Alsdorf pieces that: “These two small icons, probably used for domestic devotions, depict an interesting form of Lakshmi that was prevalent only in the northwest of the subcontinent, including Kashmir.” See also, Pal, P., The Arts of Kashmir, Asia Society exhibition catalogue, New York, 2007, fig. 63.