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Indian and Southeast Asian Art

Christie's

September 14, 2010, 10 A.M.

Sale 2337

Christie's New York Fall Asian Art Week Totals $70.75 Million, 2nd Highest Total For Christies New York Asian Art Week. The Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art Sale Totaled $34,115,000.
The Chinese Works of Art Sales, Including Archaic Bronzes from The Anthony Hardy Collection Totaled $55.5 Million, the Highest Total for a Series of Chinese Art Sales in New York

Gandararn Silver Cup, circa Late 1st Century B.C.-Early 1st Century A.D., 5 1/8 inches high

Sandhya Jain-Patel (hand) with Lot 39, “A Silver Cup,” Gandhara, Circa Late 1st Century B.C.-Early 1st Century A.D., 5 1/8 inches high, from the Collection of Julian Sherrier, and Lot 32, “A Gray Schist Figure of Buddha,” Gandhara, 2nd-3rd Century, 21 inches high 

By Michele Leight

This sale of Indian and Southeast Asian Art at Christie's September 14, 2010 includes over 200 bronzes, sculptures and paintings from India, the Himalayas, Gandhara, and Indonesia and features exceptional and rare Gandharan silver from the collection of Julian Sherrier acquired in 1979, including goblets, bowls, and sieves, and a ladle dating from the Late 1st century B.C. to the Early 1st century A.D., many bearing inscriptions with the owner or donor’s name that are of Greek, Iranian, Scythian and predominantly Indian origin.

Cabinet of Gandharan Silver

Gandharan Silver from The Collection of Julian Sherrier

Lot 39, left, a silver cup; center, Lot 33, Roman silver kantharos; right, Lot 58, silver footed bowl with mesomphalos

Left, Lot 39, “A Silver Cup,” described above; Center: Lot 33, “A Roman silver kantharos,” Gandhara, circa late 1st century B.C.- early 1st century A.D. Cast and decorated in roupousse; inscription in Karoshi above the bearded figure, with a turned foot separately made. 4 5/8 inches high; Left: Lot 58, “A silver footed bowl with mesomphalos,”Gandhara, circa late 1st century B.C. - early 1st century A.D.; 8 5/8 inches  diameter. All from the Collection of Julian Sherrier

A Roman silver “kantharos,” or cast and repousse cup, also from Gandhara, Lot 33, (estimate $150,000 to $250,000), depicts a mythological tale of Centaurs attempting to abduct women from a wedding feast - called the Centauromachy. It dates from the late 1st century B.C. to the early 1st century A.D.  Lot 33 sold for $434,500 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article. It was the top lot of the sale.

Three silver aryballoi, Gandhara

 Lot 40, “Three Silver Aryballoi,” Gandhara, circa late 1st Century B.C-Early 1st Century A.D. 

The art of Gandhara shines on in a striking “Silver Cup” (Lot 39), with distinctive ribbed walls, possibly from Taxila - a famous Gandharan archaeological site - dating from the late 1st century B.C. to the early 1st

century A.D., illustrated at the top of this story. 

The inscription reads “Property of Dhraasena, son of Anantasena, sadera 12.” Lot 39 is held in the hand of Sandhya Jain-Patel, Christie’s Specialist for this sale, and has an estimate of $50,000 to $70,000. Beside it is Lot 32, “A Gray Schist Bust of Buddha,” from Gandhara, 2nd-3rd Century, which has an estimate of $60,000 to $80,000), with a halo, flowing robes, and two dangling lotus flowers with long stems on either side of his serene face.  Lot 39 sold for $56,250. Lot 32 failed to sell.


Other Indian and Southeast Asian Art

Lot 17, gray schist head of Buddha

Lot 17, “A Gray Schist Head of Buddha,” Gandhara, 2nd - 3rd Century, 7 inches high

Lot 21, gray schist figure of Maitreya

Lot 21, “A Gray Schist Figure of Maitreya,” Gandhara, 2nd-3rd Century, 29 7/8 inches high

Beautiful examples of Gandharan sculpture are also on offer at this sale, including Lot 17, a graceful “Gray Schist Head of Buddha,” with a reasonable estimate of $25,000 to $35,000, and Lot 21, “A Gray Schist Figure of Maitreya,” Gandhara, 2nd-3rd Century, with diaphanous robes, standing with feet slightly apart on a base with a flaming stupa (estimate $30,000 to $50,000). Other Gandharan statues and reliefs on a smaller scale are featured in the display case below, with estimates in the range of $5,000 to $10,000.  Lot 17 failed to sell.   Lot 21 sold for $37,500. 

Small Gandaran sculpture and reliefs

Small Gandharan Sculpture and Reliefs, circa 2nd-3rd Century

Warm gold offers an alternative to silver in a dazzling group of Himalayan gilt bronzes, highlighted by a stunning 14th century “Important Gilt Bronze Figure of Amitayus,” from Tibet, Lot 88, with an estimate of $600,000 to $800,000.

Gilt bronze figure of Amitayus

Lot 88, “An Important Gilt Bronze Figure of Amitayus,” Tibet, 14th Century, 16 inches

The Buddha Amitayus is the Buddha of Infinite Life, shown meditating, his hands possibly holding a jar containing the exilir of immortality. The high copper alloy content of this exquisite bronze, visible beneath the rich gilding, was most likely the work of Newari craftsmen. Lot 88 has an affinity with Lot 100, “A Large and Important Gilt Bronze Figure of Vajrasattva,” (estimate $500,000 to $700,000), illustrated below, a superb work from the 15th Century, with a rapturous expression and fantastic foliate tiara. While both bronzes were Tibetan commissions created by Newari craftsmen, it is not clear whether the sculptures were cast in Nepal or Tibet.  Lot 88 failed to sell.   Lot 100 failed to sell.

Gilt bronze figure of Varjrsattva 

Lot 100, “A Large and Important Gilt Bronze Figure of Vajrasattva,” Tibet or Nepal, 15th Century, 16 inches high

Treasures for the collector come in all sizes. Exuding peace and tranquility, a group of small gilt bronzes glow in a display cabinet, (illustrated below), especially effective “en masse.” For those who would like to own a Buddha of Eternal Life, there are several exquisite gilt bronze figures of Amitayus on offer from $4,000 to $8,000, from the 16th to 18th century.

Gilt bronzes

Gilt bronzes glow within a display case in Christie’s galleries

An absolutely amazing embroidered silk thangka, Lot 149, entitled “A Large and Important Silk Applique Thangka of Offerings to Vajrabhairava,” from Mongolia, created circa 1800, has an estimate $250,000 to $350,000. This is a treasure not only for the art collector, but also for the animal lover and environmentalist; it is overflowing with wildlife, creatures and plants - there are yaks, tigers, horses, camels and elephants below, and black birds with human, tiger and elephant skins above. If that is not enough there is also a pond in a palace, signifying the universe.  Lot 149 failed to sell.

Silk applique thangka of offerings to Vajrabhairava

Lot 149, “A Large and Important Silk Applique Thangka of Offerings to Vajrabhairava,” Mongolia, circa 1800; 53 by 94 inches

Of course there are deities, including wrathful ones, who must be appeased with offerings, including some poor animals that are relegated to the extremities, left and right. This beautiful thangka was used in a shrine room, a “universe” exquisitely embroidered in a horizontal format as part of a uniquely Tibetan type of painting known as rgyan tshogs (“sets of ornaments”), or bskang rdsas (materials for the banquet). It was exhibited in “Visions of the Cosmos: From the Milky Ocean to an Evolving Universe,” at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City, from December 2009-May 2010. A detail from the thangka, illustrated below, depicts energized black Yaks and a camel.

Detail of thangka in Lot 149

Detail of Lot 149, depicting Yaks and a Camel

“Tibetan Art from The Lauf Collection” includes the masterpiece illustrated here, Lot 139, “A Thangka of the Ninth Karmapa, Wangchug Dorje,” who is depicted seated in a verdant mountain landscape on a lion throne, with tables of offerings in front of him, both real and imagined: jewels, tea, oranges, and fine incense, among others. Exquisitely painted (see detail) in flowing red and gold robes, wearing a black hat, and holding the golden long-life vase, his inner red and orange robes are those of a fully ordained monk, while the richly patterned gold outer garment is his meditation cloak.  Lot 139 sold for $164,500.

Thangka of the Ninth Karmapa, Wangchug Dorje

Lot 139, “A Thangka of the Ninth Karmapa, Wangchug Dorje,” Tibet, 18th Century, Tibetan Art from the Lauf Collection

Articulated bronze mandala of Chakrasamvara and Vajravarahi

Front: Lot 61, “A Rare Articulated Bronze Mandala of Chakrasamvara and Vajravarahi,” Northeastern India, Late Pala Period, 13th Century; Rear: Lot 134, “A Thangka of Gyalwa Drigung Chenpo Konchog Tendzin Chokyi Nyima,”Tibet, 18th Century, Opaque pigments and gold on textile, 22 by 16 inches

Another thangka,  “Lot 134, “A Thangka of Gyalwa Drigung Chenpo Konchog Tendzin Chokyi Nyima,” also from The Lauf Collection is shown above with extraordinary Lot 61, “A Rare Articulated Bronze Mandala of Chakrasamvara and Vajravarahi,” (Property from the Collection of a Gentleman), with an estimate of $70,000 to $90,000. Lot 61 sold for $122,500. Christie’s catalogue for this sale notes:

“This remarkable and iconic concept of a lotiform mandala has articulated petals that close to form a lotus bud. First conceived in Northeastern India during the Pala Period (9th-13th centuries), very few examples remain from the period and are generally of smaller size. A revival was sparked in China during the early 15th century inspiring splendid gilt bronze examples during the Yongle period. The construction is a technical tour-de-force, with the stem containing an iron armature and mechanically joined to the separately cast base.”

 

Thangka of Tinuma Vajrayogini

 

Lot 152, “A Thangka of Tinuma Vajrayogini,” Tibet, 12th Century, Opaque pigments and gold on textile, 24 by 16 inches

Lot 152, “A Thangka of Tinuma Vajrayogini, shown above, is unusual because it depicts a goddess. Created in Tibet in the 18th century, the red yogini is depicted dancing on a prostrate figure in startlingly lifelike fashion, holding a scull cap and knife. The other participants are long life deities (above), four Tara figures on either side - including a rather gruesome “Tara Burning” to her right - and a world protector deity directly under her.   Lot 152 sold for $43,750.

 
 Gilt bronze of Avalokiteshvara

Lot 70, “A Rare and Important Gilt Bronze Figure of Avalokiteshvara,” Nepal, Circa 9th-10th century

There are so many gems in this sale it is not possible to include them all, sadly. The examples illustrated here give some idea of the fine quality, ancientness and incredible beauty of art on offer this week.

 


Blackstone stele of Umamaheshvara

 

Lot 158, “A Blackstone Stele of Umamaheshvara,” Northeast India, Pala Period, 11th Century, 29 inches high

 

Lot 70, “A Rare Gilt Bronze Figure of Avalokiteshvara,” (9th-10th Century) from Nepal, has an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000; Lot 158, “A Blackstone Stele of Umamaheshvara,” Pala Period, 11th Century, (estimate of $80,000 to $120,000), is a tender depiction of Shiva and his wife Parvati, each embracing the other, framed by a graceful halo with a beaded edge. A graceful “Bronze Head of a Buddha” (Lot 235) is from Thailand.  Lot 70  failed to sell.  Lot 158  sold for $12,500.  Lot 235  sold for $30,000.

 

Bronze head of Buddha

 

Lot 235, “A Bronze Head of Buddha,” Thailand, Sukkothai Style, 15th Century, 15 inches

 
A scene-stealer, Lot 216, “An Illustration from the Bhagavata Purana: Krishna and Balarama Battling Jarasingha” has all the attributes of a Mughal Miniature painting, but in fact it is from Nepal. It is estimated at $6,000 to $8,000.  It sold for $7,500.

 

Illustration from the Bhagavata Purana: Krishna and Balarama Battling Jarasingha

 

Lot 216, “An Illustration from the Bhagavata Purana: Krishna and Balarama Battling Jarasingha,” Nepal, Circa 1775, Opaque pigments and gold on wasli, 13 by 20 1/8 inches, from The Collection of Margaret and Robert Jaffie.

 

White marble throne

Lot 179, “A White Marble Throne,” India, Rajasthan, 18th-19th Century

 

The carving of this throne (Lot 179, estimate $15,000 to $20,000) is as fine as lace, an elegant fusion of floral scrollwork, gentle geometry and technical wizardry. It also offers easy access to the “seat” via two thoughtful steps.  The throne is so enticing it encourages dreams of magical palaces lit by moonlight - and boarding a plane to India. It sold for $18,750.

The sale total was $3,981,375.

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