A MAGNIFICENT GILT-BRONZE GROUP OF YAMANTAKA AND VAJRAVETALI TIBETO-CHINESE, 18TH CENTURY
- gilt copper alloy
- Height: 14 1/4 in. (36.5 cm)
The current lot was previously in the collection of the late Dr. Francis Ludwig Anton (1876– 1951). Per notes compiled in the 1940s by Dr. Anton’s daughter, Mrs. Frances Anton Clarke, this bronze was sourced in Asia by an American collector commissioned to acquire items of value on behalf of Mr. Clarence Heinz (1873–1920), the eldest son of The H.J. Heinz Company. Upon the death of Mr. Heinz in 1920, his Los Angeles home and its contents, including the current lot, were purchased by Dr. Anton.
In the 1950s, the bronze was appraised by Dr. Nordewin von Koerber at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, one of the leading authorities on Tibet in the US at the time. Dr. von Koerber determined it to be a fine and rare piece, and in his estimation, an original. It has remained with the Anton family since then, and is being offered by his direct descendants.
The late Dr. Anton was born in Munich, Germany in 1876. He emigrated to the United States in 1892, and graduated from the University of Southern California as a Doctor of Medicine (MD) in 1899. He married Sarah Elizabeth Neill in 1900, and from 1900—1906 he had a private medical practice in Nome, Alaska. On his return to Los Angeles, Dr. Anton was an instructor in gynaecology for the Los Angeles Department College of Medicine, and later established a private practice as a General Practitioner and surgeon until his death in 1951. He was a member of the Los Angeles County Medical Society, the Medical Society of the State of California, and the American Medical Association.
The pedestal style of this dramatic sculpture of Vajrabhairava and his consort Vajravetali recalls the stepped and moulded bases of medieval eastern and northern Indian bronzes, as seen throughout the significant collection of fine early Indian metal sculpture amassed in the Qing Palace Collection, see The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Buddhist Statues of Tibet, Hong Kong, 2003, pp. 22-76.
Rolpai Dorje (1717-1786), the third Changkya Hutuktu and Buddhist preceptor to the Qianlong emperor (r. 1735-1796), was inspired by the Indian origins of Buddhism and was an admirer of early Indian Buddhist art. He oversaw the production of artworks for the court, was responsible for iconographic programs and innovation in sculptural style. His appreciation of medieval Indian art informed the sculptural traditions of the Qianlong period.
The homage paid to Indian Buddhism and sculptural style is exemplified by the renowned eighteenth century Pala style Tara inlaid with gold, silver and copper in the Palace Collection, which has a similar pedestal style to the Vajrabhairava, see Palace Museum, Cultural Relics of Tibetan Buddhism Collected in the Qing Palace, Beijing, 1992, pl. 60: also compare the Qing Palace Ekavira Vajrabhairava with similar stepped and moulded lotus base, ibid, pl. 66.
Also compare with a similar eighteenth century bronze group depicting Vajrabhairava and Shakti, sold at Christie's New York, 18 March 2015, lot 4023.