The rock sculpture of Arjuna's Penance, Mahabalipuram
Artist: Gantz, John (1772-1853)
Watercolour of the rock sculpture of Arjuna's Penance, by John Gantz, c. 1825. Inscribed: 'A view of the Sculptures representing the tapass or intense penance of Arjoona Mahabalipoorum from a Sketch by Mr J. Braddock. J. Gantz'.
John Gantz and his son Justinian ran a lithographic press, but are remembered best for their watercolours of flat-top houses and public buildings in and around Chennai (Madras), dating to the first half of the 19th century. Though not British-born, they both lived and died in India, in the service of the East India Company. Mamallapuram, a tiny village south of Madras, was a flourishing port of the Pallava dynasty from the 5th - 8th centuries. The site is famous for a group of temples, a series of rock-cut caves and some monolithic sculptures created in the 7th century reign of Narasimhavarman Mahamalla. Covering two huge boulders, 27 m long and 9 m high, is the remarkable carving in low relief seen in this drawing. The scene has been interpreted as the story of Arjuna's Penance from the great Hindu epic, The Mahabharata.