Sotheby’s Indian and Southeast Asian Works of Art sale this March is led by one of the most impressive South Indian bronze sculptures to be offered at auction in recent times. The 13th century pair of Shiva with his consort Uma (Somaskanda) boasts an exceptional provenance, having been in a number of distinguished collections since the 1950s. Highlights also include an excellent selection of Hindu and Buddhist art from Nepal, including a large gilt copper sculpture of Vishnu dated by inscription to 1105 CE and gifted to the original owner by the King of Nepal in the 1950s, and an elegant 9th/10th century image of Avalokiteshvara with a provenance dating back to the early 1970s. Both sculptures are exceptionally fine and are a testament to the renowned artistry of Newari metalworkers in the Kathmandu Valley during the medieval period.
Another highlight of the Himalayan section is an 18th century Sino-Tibetan painting of an Arhat made during the Qianlong period and dated 1794. The exquisitely painted work depicting the adept seated on a lotus throne flanked by his spiritual progenitor Buddhas bears obvious Chinese stylistic elements. Stone sculptures in the sale include an extremely fine Khmer Baphuon Uma of exceptional quality from a European Estate, representing the best of Baphuon art and also carries a 1967 provenance. Also of interest is a rare and precious masterfully carved agate relic depicting a fasting Buddha from the Gandharan period, remarkable for the level of detail achieved in a diminutive scale. The sale is rounded off by a diverse group of Indian miniatures culled from a number of private American collections. Totaling 35 works, this is the most eclectic selection of miniature paintings offered in a New York sale over the past decade. Highlights include an early 16th century portrait of the Emperor Akbar attributed to the eminent painter Manohar, an early 18th century portrait of the Emperor Farrukhsiyar attributable to either Bhawanidas or Chitarman II, a circa 1770 illustration of lovers on a terrace from Lucknow, attributed to Faizullah, a leaf from the Polier album est. ($30,000/40,000) as well as religious and secular subjects from a variety of Rajasthani and Pahari courts.