My great aunt, Cornelia Maria Georgina Sharp, was born on 8th December 1891, the second child in a family of six. It was years later that we discovered a little more of this courageous woman’s life when Dad’s cousin researched into what had happened to his absent father.
I am touching on her story here as I was delighted to be commissioned to paint an icon of Lord Krishna, the god of compassion, tenderness and love in Hinduism and happy that we have a family connection to this rich faith.
Transcribing the lines of outline drawing onto paper
In brief, Cornelia, a young English Catholic woman working in service, married a young Indian Hindu man named Hironmoy Roy-Chowdury in the Church of the Holy Rood, Watford. All the more extraordinary was that her new husband was the nephew of poet and winner of the Nobel Prize for literature Rabindranath Tagore
Hironmoy was a sculptor studying at the Royal College of Art. Their only child, Francis Roy Chowdury (Dad’s cousin), was born in October 1914 two months after the outbreak of the first world war. The marriage wasn’t to last long as Hironmoy went to France to volunteer in an abulance unit and then his family heard of the marriage and insisted he return to India.
First lines on paper
Back to the icon of Lord Krishna where I’ve depicted him as a young man playing the flute, standing on a lotus flower. He is painted on 600gsm hot pressed paper mounted on a 25mm ply board rather than on gesso thereby avoiding the use of rabbit skin size.
Applying 24 carat transfer gold leaf over acrylic size coloured with a little red ochre
Lord Krishna standing against the gold of heaven
Underpainting the figure and garments
Applying the paint in thin layers
Flesh tones painted in Lapis Lazuli
The colours on images of Lord Krishna are vibrant but to avoid them clashing, I limited the palette to English red ochre, yellow ochre maimeri, lapis lazuli, black and white. The greens were mixed from malachite.
I chose to use Lapis Lazuli as its deep, celestial blue remains the symbol of royalty and honor, gods and power, spirit and vision, wisdom and truth. Its name comes from the Latin lapis, “stone,” and the Persian lazhuward, “blue.”
Some of the many qualities with which Lord Krishna is associated
Lord Krishna ready for his new home
There must be enough for a book on the subject of Cornelia and Hironmoy’s brief lives together and it is a treasure that we know of this through their son’s research.
I will close with a quote from ‘Fruit Gathering’ by Rabindranath Tagore;
‘Send me the love which is cool and pure like your rain that blesses the thirsty earth and fills the homely earthen jars.
Send me the love that would soak down into the centre of being, and from there would spread like the unseen sap through the branching tree of life, giving birth to fruits and flowers.’
Thanks for reading,