Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Works of Art
Sotheby's New York
2 PM., March 22, 2018
This March 22, 2018 of Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Art at Sotheby's New York is highlighted by numerous fine sculptures and some very nice watercolors.
Lot 1031 is an impressive bronze figure of Ekadashamukha Lokeshvara from Tibet in the 13th Century. It is 37 inches high.
The catalogue entry provides the following commentary:
"the standing eleven-headed and eight-armed Avalokiteshvara with primary hands in anjali mudra, the lowered right hand in varada mudra, separately cast ritual implements now missing from the remaining hands, wearing the ornaments of a bodhisattva including a sanghati tied at the waist with a jewelled clasp, armbands and necklaces inset with gems, tripartite bracelets and circular beaded earrings, and an elaborate crown inset with semi-precious stones upon the three principal heads, with a figure of Buddha flanked by adepts to the front of the crown and each face with peaceful countenance, topped by seven heads in three tiers with gem-set crowns and wrathful faces, with the head of Amitabha Buddha appearing above, all heads, hair and crowns adorned with ritual polychromy.
"The bodhisatttva Ekadashamukha Lokeshvara is depicted with eleven heads, as described in the ancient Indian text ‘Arya Avalokiteshvara Ekadashamukha Nama Dharani’.
"This form of the bodhisattva has been popular with Tibetan Buddhists since the reintroduction of the faith in the country during the Chidar, or Later Diffusion of Faith, corresponding to around 1000-1200 C. E. The iconography of this example corresponds to eastern Indian Pala period (c. 750-1200) sculpture, such as a twelfth century northern Bengal copper alloy statue depicting Ekadashamukha Lokeshvara now in the Potala, see Ulrich von Schroeder, Buddhist Sculptures in Tibet, Hong Kong, 2001, Vol I. p. 238, pl. 72A.
"The cult was not popular in Nepal in this early period, and it may be assumed that it was Indian Buddhist culture that was the source of the deity’s practice in Tibet. Indeed the style of the present example owes much to the artistic traditions of the Pala period, including the linear stance, as seen in the Pala example of the same iconography, and the necklace with distinctive inverted teardrop pendants held by flower petal clasps; compare the necklace pendants on an eleventh century Pala period crowned Buddha in Mindroling, ibid., p. 265, pl. 84C. Also compare the Tibetan 1150-1250 copper alloy Tathagatas at Nyethang monastery, ibid., Vol. II, pp. 1166-7, pls. 310A-E, including the drop necklace, circular beaded earring and armband design, the casting sprues left in place in the crown, and the scrolling vine design of the central element of the crown, including the miniature image of Buddha.
"Nyethang was one of the principal residences in Tibet of the Indian guru Atisha (982-1054), founder of the Kadam order, who was known to have employed Indian artists, the legacy of whom is manifest in this important statue of Ekadashamukha Lokeshvara. It remains one of the larger copper alloy examples of the bodhisattva outside Tibet which date to this early formative period of Tibet’s art history; for a large and later example, dating to circa 1400, see Pratapaditya Pal, Himalayas: An Aesthetic Adventure, Chicago, 2003, p. 226, pl. 147."
The lot has an estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,000,000. It sold for $1,637,500 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article.
The sale total was $6,911,250 with 57 for
the 68 offered lots selling (86.2 percent).
1026, Standing Buddha, grey schist, Gandhara, Kushan Period, 2nd to 3rd
Century, 62 inches high
"This highly important sculpture is a superb representative example of the Gandharan style of art which flourished in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent from roughly the first through the fifth centuries of the Common Era. The region of Gandhara which comprised parts of modern Afghanistan and Pakistan, was strategically located at the hub of the ancient Silk Routes, and was an area of prime military and commercial significance in antiquity. The region was particularly influenced by Hellenistic culture resulting from the military campaign of Alexander the Great in the fourth Century BC. The legacy of Hellenism that he left in his wake was integrated with local traditions creating a multi-cultural lexicon out of which was born the Gandharan School, a unique amalgam of East and West.
"The hybrid character of Gandharan art found powerful expression in Buddhism, which was the dominant religion in this area. Buddhism flourished in this region from the first Century BC. reaching its apogee under the mighty Kushan emperors. The Kushan Period (1st Century BCE - 3rd Century CE) is considered the golden age of Gandharan Buddhist Art during which the construction of stupas, temples and monasteries, all housing images of the Buddha, dominated the Gandharan cultural spehere.
"The underlining feature of Gandharan art was its cosmopolitan nature which combined Greek and Roman artistic modes with strains of Scythian, Iranian and other traditions bound together with a strongly Indic orientation. The agglomeration of these diverse artistic influences is aptly displayed in this sculpture of the standing Buddha, which suggests the model of the Greek logos or orator. The frontal and linear orientation of the image is characteristic of Palmyrene art, while the treatment of the symmetrical oval face and deeply carved eyes hark back to the classical Greek tradition. The conventionalized treatment of the drapery in parallel folds is akin to the Imperial Roman tradition, and yet the innate spirituality of the image is purely Indic. The Buddha’s missing right hand would have possibly been raised in abhaya mudra, the fear abiding gesture, which not only signifies security but also implies instruction and assent. The well-proportioned face with narrow heavy-lidded eyes and softly curving lips, the powerfully modeled body with the musculature of the upper torso subtly defined beneath the garment and the vigorous treatment of the drapery with its prominent heavy folds emphasized by undercut ridges, coalesce to make this a superlative example of Gandharan craftsmanship.
"The current image is one of the few examples of highly important life-sized figures from the region to have survived to the present day. The tallest known freestanding Gandharan sculpture of the Buddha is the three meters tall figure from Sahri Bahlol, see H. Ingholt, Gandharan Art in Pakistan, New York, 1957, no. 210. While Gandharan sculptures reveal a variety of stylistic types, the present example may be assigned to the 'mature' phase defined by Zwalf, or Group III as defined by Ingholt. For further discussion on phases and styles see W. Zwalf, Gandharan Sculptures in the British Museum, vol. I & II, 1996, pp. 69-72.
"The looped end of the garment held in the Buddha’s hand is a naturalistic detail that adds realism to this wonderfully serene image. For a similar treatment of the drapery with the garment looped in the hand the figure may be compared to a smaller standing Buddha in the Tokyo National Museum, see Isao Kurita, Gandharan Art: The World of the Buddha, vol. I & II, 2003, p. 78, pl. 201. The rendering of the facial features, the hairstyle and the treatment of the drapery is most closely related to that of a large bust of the Buddha from Sahri Bahlol now in the Peshawar Museum, see H. Ingholt, Gandharan Art in Pakistan, New York, 1957, no. 223, but the current example is more complete and includes the beautifully rendered detail of the left hand."
lot has an estimate of $1,200,000 to $1,500,000. It sold for $1,095,000.
1025, torso of a goddess, sandstone, Angkhor Period, Baphuoun style,
circa 11th Century, 20 1/4 inches high
1025 is a very fine torso of a goddess, sandstone from the Angkhor
Period, Baphuoun style, circa 11th Century. It is 20 1/4 inches
high. It has an estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. It sold for $37,500.
1020, figure of Rama or Lakshmana, bronze, Southern India, Vijayanagar
period, 14th/15th Century, 23 2/3 inches high
Lot 1020 is a figure of Rama or Lakshmana, bronze, Southern India, Vijayanagar period, 14th/15th Century. It is 23 2/3 inches high. It has an estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. It sold for $30,000.
Lot 1022, Figure depicting Uma, bronze, Southern India, Chola period, 12th century, 18 5/8 inches high
Lot 1022, Figure depicting Uma, bronze, Southern India, Chola period, 12th century, 18 5/8 inches high. It come from the collection of Edwin and Cherie Silver, which the catalogue described as "one of the great American collections of non-western art" and includes "impeccable" examples of South Asian, African, Pre-Columbian, Oceanic and American Indian Art.
The catalogue provides the following commentary:
"Uma, consort of Shiva standing in graceful tribhanga on a circular lotus base supported by a square pedestal with two attachment loops, her pendent left hand in lola mudra, the right hand raised in katakahasta mudra, and wearing a diaphanous clinging dhoti delicately incised with scrolling foliate designs, wide belt around her hips suspending festoons, meditation cord falling diagonally across her chest, and jeweled collar, her hair arranged in a tiered conical karandamukuta, with two tresses escaping onto her shoulders."
Silvers acquired the lot at Sotheby's in 1998 and it had been
previously owned by Ben Heller and Alice M. Kaplan.
"Bronze images," the catalogue entry continued, "created between the 9th through the 13th centuries in South India are widely hailed as iconic masterpieces throughout the world. During this period most of the South Indian peninsula was under the rule of the Chola dynasty. At the height of their power, the Cholas controlled a vast swathe of territory that included not only southern India but also extended to Sri Lanka and the Maldive Islands. The Chola period is notable for its unparalleled cultural and artistic achievements and is widely considered to be a 'golden age' in Indian history. Indeed the standards set in bronze casting, sculpture, painting and architecture continue to define these traditions in South India to this day. Besides the skill required in casting, Chola craftsman perfected the harmony of line and form in these images creating some of the finest free-standing sculptures in existence.
"Chola monarchs were active patrons of the arts, building numerous temples and commissioning thousands of sculptures in stone and bronze for the purpose of worship in these edifices. It was during this era of powerful patronage buoyed by unfettered economic prosperity that some of the finest Indian stone and bronze sculpture was produced.
"Uma, or Parvati as she is known outside of Southern India, is revered as the essential companion to the omniscient, all powerful Shiva. Not only is she the epitome of benevolence, beauty and grace, it is through her that Shiva’s obdurate divinity can be comprehended.
"This image of Uma together with that of her Lord Shiva would have been carried in processional worship around the temple and town in which they were housed so that all worshippers had the opportunity to view the icons and partake of their grace.
"Uma can assume many forms, some ferocious, others benign. As Durga or Kali she is depicted as a fierce and wrathful deity. When she is being represented as the wife of Shiva, she is shown as gentle and loving, and is usually smaller in scale than her consort. Her right hand, as can be seen in the present example, is held in a distinctive gesture with her forefinger almost touching her thumb, forming a ring where a flower could be placed.
"Uma's posture suggests that this image would have once been a part of a set of images in which she accompanied Shiva in one of his manifestations, and it is likely that this stance would represent Uma with Shiva as Lord of the Dance. As his wife and consort she was one of the few being allowed to witness his performance, and an attendant statue of Uma is integral part of Shiva Nataraja imagery. With her left hand pendent and hip thrust out, she would have been placed on the left side of the God, although they are now separated."
For a related image of Uma from the Rockefeller Collection at Asia Society New York see Denise Leidy, Treasures of Asian Art, New York, p.52, no. 34.
lot has an estimate of $180,000 to $220,000. It sold for $325,000.
Anuradha Ghosh-Mazumdar, senior international specialist at Christie's, discussing Lot 1023, Figure of Appar, bronze, Southern India, circa 13th Century, 22 3/4 inches high, at press preview
Lot 1023 is a bronze figure of Appar from Southern India, circa 13th Century. It is 22 3/4 inches high
The catalogue entry provides the following commentary:
"The creation of bronze images for the purpose of worship began in the eighth century during the Pallava period but the art of metal casting reached its apogee under the patronage of the Chola monarchs. Chola bronzes were made from wax models using the ‘lost wax’ or cire perdue process. The finest bronzes comprised an alloy of at least five metals (panchaloham), which included copper, tin, lead, gold and silver. The fact that these were solid cast indicates the extent of the expense undertaken in the production of these ritual icons. Besides the skill required in casting, Chola craftsmen perfected the harmony of line and form in these images creating some of the finest freestanding sculptures in existence. The perfect equipoise of the saint in the present image attests to the mastery achieved by the bronze casters while his serene, idealized countenance captures the spirit of bhakti or loving devotion closely associated with the subject.
"Bronze images such as these were objects of devotion in Shaivite shrines. Shiva was the kulanayaka or dynastic patron deity of the Chola Emperors. They built shrines dedicated to his worship throughout their lands which were repositories for numerous bronze images of the Lord and his pantheon including the nayanmars, a group of sixty-three Shaiva saints who are widely venerated in South India. These holy men traveled throughout the land singing hymns in praise of the Lord Shiva and their songs and poems form a rich corpus of devotional literature constituting the core of the Tamil sacred canon, known as the Tevaram.
"The most famous of the nayanmars was the child saint Sambandar who is reputed to have lived in the seventh century. The saint Appar, subject of the present image, who was older, was his contemporary and it is believed that the title Appar, or “revered father,” was conferred upon him by Sambandar. Appar was a Jain monk who converted to Shaivism and is thus portrayed with a shaved head. He approached Shiva as a humble servant and performed menial tasks in his temples including clearing the weeds that sprang up within the temple premises. That is why he is commonly pictured with a hoe in the crook of his arm. In early images the hoe was cast along with the figure. Later it was added separately. The present image is missing its hoe but Appar’s gentle, humble persona is very accurately portrayed.
"Alongside the worship of Shiva there were specific festivals in the calendar celebrating the nayanmars themselves. As part of ritual practice, the images were lustrated with water, honey, butter and milk and rubbed down with ash. They were then anointed with sandal paste and vermilion, clothed, garlanded and carried around the town or temple premises in ritual procession so that all devotes had the opportunity to gain a darshan or view of the holy icon.
"This image has passed through the hands of some of the most legendary collectors of South Asian Art in the twentieth century - J. R. Belmont, Christian Humann and Robert Hatfield Ellsworth. For a closely related figure of Appar in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago, see Vidya Dehejia, The Sensuous and the Sacred: Chola Bronzes from South India, New York, 2002, cat. 29, pp. 156-57."
lot has an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It failed to sell.
Lot 1036, figure of Buddha Shakyamuni on a lion throne, bronze, Tibet, 14th Century, 12 3/4 inches high
Lot 1036 is a fine gilt-bronze figure of Buddha Shakyamuni on a lion throne, Tibet, 14th Century. It is 12 3/4 inches high.
catalogue entry provides the following commentary:
"This radiant image in gem-set gilt copper depicts the Buddha Shakyamuni with his hands in the gesture of turning the Buddhist Wheel of Law and expounding the dharma. The lions in the throne are a symbol of the Buddha’s Shakya clan, and an ancient Indian emblem of royalty and power. Scrolling vine around the base represents the branches and tendrils of the lotus on which the Buddha is seated, the flower symbolising purity and renunciation.
"The sculpture epitomises the qualities of Newar master artists working for Tibetan patrons in the fourteenth century. Nepalese sculptural traditions are seen in the simple yet sensuously modeled, and perfectly proportioned figure of Buddha, the subtle colour of the expertly inset gem decoration on the throne cloth below and the rich hue of the mercury gilding. The pedestal design reflects Tibetan preference for sculptural embellishment in the exuberance of the scrolling vine motif, compare a central Tibetan seated gem-set gilt copper alloy figure of Manjushri with scrolling vine throne, see Pratapaditya Pal, Art of the Himalayas, New York, 1991, p. 125, cat. no. 65, where Pal notes that such floral design along the bottom of the lotus base is commonly seen on Tibetan painting of the period but almost never on Nepalese bronzes.
"The rectangular undecorated panel at the back of the throne indicates how the statue was placed in a larger temple setting: where now there is a hole, a sturdy tang once protruded which would have been used to locate and secure the statue in its designated position, cf. the statues of Densatil that are fixed in position in this manner, see Olaf Czaja and Adriana Proser, eds, Golden Visions of Densatil, New York, 2014, p. 46-7.
"Compare the scrolling vine throne, the lotus petal design, the subtle inset jewellery and the clean and elegant sculptural line of a fourteenth century gilt copper alloy Amoghasiddhi in the Berti Aschmann Collection at the Museum Rietberg, that was included in the 2014 exhibition “Golden Visions of Densatil: A Tibetan Buddhist Monastery” at Asia Society Museum, ibid.,cat. no. 31: compare also the scrolling vine motif on the lotus pedestals of two Vajravarahi gilt bronzes from Densatil, ibid., cat. nos. 42-3. Compare also a fourteenth century gilt copper alloy Vajrasattva in the Drigung Thil monastery collection, with similar scrolling vine motif on the pedestal and subtle inset jewellery, see Ulrich von Schroeder, Buddhist Sculptures in Tibet, Hong Kong, 2001, Vol. II, p. 1041, pl. 260."
It has an estimate of $800,000 to $1,200,000. It sold for $975,000.
Lot 1035, figure of crowned Buddha, gilt bronze inlaid with silver, Tibet, 14th Century, 11 2/3 inches high
Lot 1035 is a 14th Century gilt-bronze figure inlaid with silver of a crowned Buddha from Tibet. It is 11 2/3 inches high.
The catalogue entry provides the following commentary:
"This superb sculpture of a crowned Buddha Shakyamuni is a testament to the powerful legacy of the Newari aesthetic imported into Tibet from the Kathmandu Valley in the medieval period. Displaying tremendous power and presence, this figure demonstrates the marriage of classical Nepalese and Tibetan sculptural elements in its luxuriant gilding, elegant beading and engraving, the cold gilding of the face and use of polychromy, and delicate use of inlay of semi-precious stones.
"This powerful and iconic bronze depicting Buddha Shakyamuni in the earth-touching gesture or bhumisparsha mudra recalls the moment of his Enlightenment, in which he called upon the earth as his witness. The Nepalese influence is strongly demonstrated in the wide forehead with straight hairline, the gilt domed ushnisha, inlaid urna, the short neck, the broad and muscular shoulders with torso narrowing to a defined waist.
"Compare the elegant hem, drape and twist of the Buddha’s sanghati along the upper arm and body with left shoulder exposed, with fourteenth century bronzes from the Nepalese school in Tibet, see. Ulrich von Schroeder, Buddhist Sculptures in Tibet, Vol. II, p. 962—3, figs. 231A and 231C."
lot has an estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. It failed to sell.
1040, Figure of Varjradhara, gilt bronze, Tibet, 15th-16th Century, 11
5/8 inches high
Lot 1040 is a fine gilt-bronze figure of Varjradhara, gilt bronze from Tibet, 15th-16th Century. It is 11 5/8 inches high. It has an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000. It failed to sell.
1032, Figure depicting Samkshipta Guhyaka Manjushri, bronze, with
silver and copper inlay, Tibet, 13th Century, 13 inches high
catalogue entry provides the following commentary:
1002 is an illustration to the Mahabharata, India, Punjab Hills, Mandi,
opaque watercolor on paper heightened with gold, circa 1830. It
is 9 1/2 by 6
1/4 inches. It has an estimate of
$5,000 to $7,000. It sold for a
hammer price of $1,900.
Lot 1009, Maharana Sardar Singh Riding an Elephant, India, Devgarh, circa 1840, opaque watercolor on paper heightened with gold, 8 3/8 by 5 3/4 inchesLot 1009 is a lovely opaque watercolor on paper heightened by gold of Maharana Sardar Singh Riding an Elephant. It is from India, Devgarh, circa 1840. It measures 8 3/8 by 5 3/4 inches. It has a modest estimate of $1,000 to $1,500. It sold for a hammer price of $600.
Lot 1007, an
illustration to the Bhagavata
Purana: Krishna Subdues the Serpent King Kaaliya, opaque watercolor on
paper heightened with gold, India, Mandi, mid-17th Century, attributed
to the Early Master at the Court of Mandi, 12 3/8 by 8 5/8 inches
"Here we see a youthful Krishna dancing with his arms outstretched on one head of the serpent Kaaliya. He stands within a vibrant golden mandorla. Crowds of onlookers - his young companions, gopas, gopis and village elders watch in amazement - standing to the left and right. Below in the River Yamuna the naga wives of the serpent Kaaliya implore Krishna to spare their husband - offering tributes of lotus blossoms. Pairs of birds fly across the brilliant jade-green ground. Above in the swirling clouds Brahma, Shiva and Parvati, Kings, Devas and a Rishi shower blessings on the scene below. The clouds tinged with vibrant vermilion red. A lapis blue sky above.
"The present folio belongs to a Bhagavata Purana series first attributed to “The Early Master of the Court of Mandi” by Catherine Glynn in two groundbreaking articles in 1983 and 1995 (Catherine Glynn, "Early Painting in Mandi" Artibus Asiae 44/1, 1983, pp. 21-64 and Catherine Glynn, "Further Evidence for Early Painting in Mandi" Artibus Asiae 55 1995, pp. 183-190). This scholarship dated the series to the mid-seventeenth Century and identified the hand of the artist who was responsible for introducing and developing a style directly influenced by Mughal painting. These mannerisms are notable. They include the highly Mughalized naturalism in the portraiture of several of the onlookers, particularly the realistic depiction of the village elders - perhaps portraits of Mandi nobility. The overall composition and color palette featuring the brilliant jade green ground and extremely vibrant lapis/ultramarine sky tinged with vermilion are also noteworthy. The particular shaded facial types of several of the females are similar to - but distinct from - faces seen in Bikaner paintings. Our present painting is surely one of the liveliest and most impressive works known by the artist. Another painting from the same Bhagavata Purana series in the Kronos Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art may be considered a companion folio.
"For more discussion on the artistic development of The Early Master at the Court of Mandi see Stella Kramrisch "Painted Delight: Indian Paintings from Philadelphia Collections" Philadelphia Museum of Art 1986 no. 113; and Stuart Cary Welch, A Flower From Every Meadow, New York, 1973, cat. 33, p. 65. Also see Sotheby's London, October 19 2016, lot 5.
has an estimate of $50,000 to $70,000. It sold for a hammer price of $700,000!
1004, illustration to the Bhagavata Purana: Balarama Parts the Waters
of the Yamuna, opaque watercolor on paper heightened with gold, India,
Kangra or Garhwal, circa 1840, 8 3/8 by 6 1/4 inches
Lot 1003, an Illustration to the Bhagavata Purana: the Infant Krishna Slay the Demoness Putana, attributed to the workshop of Seu-Nainsukh, opaque watercolor on paper heightened with gold, India, Guler, circa 1780-90, 9 1/4 by 6 5/8 inches
1003 is an
Illustration to the Bhagavata Purana: the Infant Krishna Slay the
Demoness Putana. It is attributed to the workshop of
watercolor on paper heightened with gold, India, Guler, circa
1780-90. It measures
9 1/4 by 6 5/8 inches. It has an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000. It sold for $55,000.