|‘Radha With Her Confidante, Pining for Krishna’ (ca. 1775-1780). Photo: Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art.|
A show at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art recently helped me escape the rude swelter of Manhattan in August, at least figuratively. The intricate figures and approach to landscape on a diminutive scale in “Divine Pleasures: Painting from India’s Rajput Courts”—a collection of centuries-old, sacred-text illustrations on view until Sept. 12—were so seductive, I forgot the foul heat and jackhammering of the city. I also found the inspiration for this month’s arrangement, in “Radha With Her Confidante, Pining for Krishna” (ca. 1775-1780).
The watercolor and ink painting on paper, only about 7 by 11 inches, depicts a fraught, beyond-Brangelina moment in the love affair between Radha, a goddess of devotion and loyalty, and the god Krishna. He has abandoned her, though he will later recognize his foolishness.
A matte black vessel by ceramist Christine Roland gave my arrangement texture and tone reminiscent of the tree trunks. Full yellow roses, deep orange kangaroo paws, branches of kumquats and flowering crab apple, and eucalyptus pods and leaves provided exoticism.
The branches that slant upward to the left mimic the line the eye travels from the leaning pose of desperate Radha to the trees and hills. A single violet clematis bloom droops over the edge of the vase, echoing the confidant’s skirt in shape and color. The arrangement is dense within an intimate scale, like the painting. No need to be oversize to exude an otherworldly passion.