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Tangka de l'Arhat Cudapanthaka
Détrempe sur tissu Dynastie Ming, XVE-début du XVIE siècle
A RARE THANKGKA DEPICTING ARHAT CUDAPANTHAKA, DISTEMPER ON CLOTH, MING DYNASTY, 15TH/EARLY 16TH CENTURY
SALTAR AL LOTE
235
Tangka de l'Arhat Cudapanthaka
Détrempe sur tissu Dynastie Ming, XVE-début du XVIE siècle
A RARE THANKGKA DEPICTING ARHAT CUDAPANTHAKA, DISTEMPER ON CLOTH, MING DYNASTY, 15TH/EARLY 16TH CENTURY
SALTAR AL LOTE

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Tangka de l'Arhat Cudapanthaka
Détrempe sur tissu Dynastie Ming, XVE-début du XVIE siècle
A RARE THANKGKA DEPICTING ARHAT CUDAPANTHAKA, DISTEMPER ON CLOTH, MING DYNASTY, 15TH/EARLY 16TH CENTURY
détrempe sur tissu
assis en vajraparyankasana sur un rocher, ses mains en dyana mudra, portant une chemise blanche et verte sous une ample robe monastique attachée par un anneau et un ruban (gouniu), ses chaussures en soie bleue posées sur un rocher devant lui, entouré d'un fabuleux paysage montagneux bleu et vert planté de pins et d'arbres fruitiers, une cascade au loin, un vase fleuri bleu translucide avec un brûle-parfum et une boîte posés sur un promontoire rocheux à ses côtés, son visage à l'expression compatissante auréolé d'or, un lion bouddhiste bleu montrant les dents à un étranger barbu tenant son petit dans ses bras, la scène surmontée d'une image de Bouddha Ratnasambhava assis sur un lotus entouré d'un halo bleu 
59,5 x 103 cm, 40  1/2 x 31  1/2 in.
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Nota del catálogo

Depictions of arhats, the enlightened Indian disciples of Shakyamuni Buddha regarded as Elders of the Buddhist faith, have been a popular theme in Chinese painting and sculpture since the ninth or tenth century. While the elegant composition of this painting interprets classical themes of landscape, mythical animals and attendant figures, it is Yongle period (1403-1424) works that establish the direct stylistic source of the portrait, such as an imperial commission depicting the same arhat Cudapanthaka, now in a private collection, see Marsha Weidner, Ed, Latter Days of the Law: Images of Chinese Buddhism, 850-1850, Lawrence and Honolulu, 1994, p. 271, cat. no. 21, pl. 10. The composition of the Yongle model remains virtually unchanged in this portrait, with the arhat seated on a rocky outcrop facing out to the left of the painting with scholar’s objects placed at his side. The playful scene with the foreign attendant holding the cub away from its parent lion, contrasting with the reserve and stillness of the meditating arhat, is similarly rendered in the Yongle work. Overhanging branches of gnarled trees form a bower for the arhat in each painting. Two elements that are not found in the Yongle Cudapanthaka are the waterfall in the background and the Buddha figure above the arhat. The addition of the Buddha probably indicates a post Yongle period date, perhaps later in the fifteenth or early in the sixteenth century: Dr Pal dates a very similar painting of Cudapanthaka in the Zimmermann Collection to the sixteenth century, that includes the Buddha Ratnasambhava above the arhat, P. Pal, Art of the Himalayas, New York, 1991, p. 167, pl. 98, while a Tibetan interpretation of the Yongle painting style, now in the Rubin Museum of Art, depicting an arhat with the long-life deity Amitayus seated in the upper right quadrant has been ascribed to the mid- to late fifteenth century, see James C. Y. Watt and Denise Patry Leidy, Defining Yongle: Imperial Art in Early Fifteenth-Century China, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2005, p. 97, pl. 40. A sixteenth or early seventeenth portrait of the arhat Bhadra, also painted in the Yongle style, was sold in these rooms, Sotheby’s Paris, 9 June 2011, lot 238A.

The colour and contour of the landscape is ultimately derived from the classical blue-green style of the Tang period (618-907), which was revived by early Yuan period (1279-1368) artists and then embraced by the Yongle court. Homage is paid to the Yongle interpretation of the tradition in this exquisite fifteenth or early sixteenth century example, and the legacy continues through to the Qing dynasty (1644-1912). The Cudapanthaka from a set of arhat paintings dated to the 54th year of Qianlong's reign (equivalent to 1789) is almost identical in composition to the present painting but lacks subtlety in the interpretation of the Yongle style and palette, The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Tangka-Buddhist Painting of Tibet, Hong Kong, 1995, p. 196, cat. no. 181. And it includes further innovation in its composition with the inclusion top right of Atisha. The Indian teacher is no doubt included to signify the renaissance of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist teachings in China under the guidance of Rolpai Dorje, the spiritual mentor of the Qianlong emperor. The extraordinarily close similarities in composition and detail, even the same measurements of the canvas of the present fifteenth or early sixteenth century Cudapanthaka and the Qianlong work, suggests that they may both have been copied from the same model, most probably an important Yongle painting that was well known to the artists’ studios and patrons. According to ancient Chinese principles the copying of important earlier works is meritorious. The Qianlong emperor’s commission to copy early Ming works emphasizes the high regard in which the original paintings must have been held, and highlights the prestige of the present fifteenth or early sixteenth century homage to the Yongle period masterpieces.

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