Woldemar Friedrich (1846-1910)
‘The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, Sri Lanka’ (1887-1888)
Signed bottom right
Oil on canvas, H. 80 x W. 93 cm
The temple, also named Sri Dalada Maligawa, or the Glorious Tooth Temple, is located in the royal palace complex of the former Kingdom of Kandy and houses the relic of the tooth of the Buddha. Since ancient times, the relic has played an important role in local politics because it is believed that whoever holds the relic, holds the governance of the country. The relic was historically held by Sinhalese kings. According to Sri Lankan legends, when the Buddha died in 543 BC, his body was cremated in a sandalwood pyre at Kushinagar. His left canine tooth was retrieved from the funeral pyre by his disciple, Khema.
Woldemar Friedrich is mainly known as a history painter and book illustrator. He studied in Berlin and Weimar where he later became a Professor at the Grand-Ducal Saxon Art School in Weimar in 1881 and also at the Art School of Berlin. In 1887 Herzog Ernst Günther von Schleswig-Holstein invited Friedrich to join him on a trip to India.
During these six month travels he produced a series of paintings and watercolours of the then still exotic oriental world. These were used to illustrate the book Sechs Monate in Indien with text by E. Leipzig and published by Adalbert Fischer in Leipzig in 1893.