Stella Kramrisch is arguably the most significant interpreter of Hindu art of the twentieth century. Her conceptual analysis of the form of the Hindu temple stands at the epicentre of twentieth-century art histories. Kramrisch’s work and career traversed three continents and her analysis presented a new art history of sacred architecture which combined European and South Asian tradition and insight. This article considers the relationship between artefacts, biography and aesthetics and examines Kramrisch’s reading of the Hindu temple in the context of her unsuccessful attempts to secure employment in England in the 1930s. Kramrisch’s analysis of the temple and her collection of sculptural fragments have had an important legacy in creating disembodied frames of temple sculpture, a legacy which stands at odds with her corporeal analysis of the temple’s meaning.