Lot 1026
  • 1026


1,000,000 - 1,500,000 USD
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  • Grey Schist
  • Height: 62 in. (157.5 cm)
the monumental image of Buddha in high relief standing in a slightly flexed pose, his finely pleated sanghati draped around his shoulders forming a scooped collar, one looped end held in his lowered left hand, the perfectly proportioned oval face with downcast eyes carved beneath long, arched eyebrows, high-bridged nose, pursed lips, his forehead bearing an urna, his hair swept back in rippled strands radiating from the center of his forehead and drawn over a dome-shaped ushnisha


Private Italian Collection, 1976.
Sotheby's New York, 24 March 2004, lot 12. 


Good overall condition. Losses to left hand, the right hand missing, lower edges of robe and feet missing as evident in the illustration. Remains of fragmentary halo adjoining right shoulder also evident in the illustration. Minor restoration apparent to the bridge of the nose. A small vertical portion of the robe on the lower right hand side has been re-attached. The pleats of the robe are deeply undercut and while they are in very good condition, there are minor chips to some of their edges. There are also small areas of encrustation adhering to some of the pleat ridges. The tips of the first three fingers on the left hand are missing and there is a tiny hole above the scooped collar, seen in the illustration. The right hand was attached to the arm through shallow vertical slots - approximately 3 inches long - above and below the right forearm, which are now exposed. The sculpture has been recently placed on a new base and metal supporting rods have been re-drilled to ensure stability. Two horizontal slices across the body of the statue, by the chest and beneath the left hand, have been expertly reconstructed and filled to match color. Apart from the evident losses to the main body of the statue it appears to be in fair overall condition, the face also appears largely untouched. Nose, upper lip and right eyelid is consolidated. Slight re-shaping of the chin.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

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 BCE. 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 BCE 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.