60
60
A LARGE CARVED LIMESTONE HEAD OF A BODHISATTVA 
SUI DYNASTY
Estimation
80 000120 000
Lot. Vendu 200,000 USD (Prix d’adjudication avec commission acheteur)
ACCÉDER AU LOT
60
A LARGE CARVED LIMESTONE HEAD OF A BODHISATTVA 
SUI DYNASTY
Estimation
80 000120 000
Lot. Vendu 200,000 USD (Prix d’adjudication avec commission acheteur)
ACCÉDER AU LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Chinese Art from the Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Florence and Herbert Irving Gift

|
New York

A LARGE CARVED LIMESTONE HEAD OF A BODHISATTVA 
SUI DYNASTY
the oval face with fleshy cheeks and a softly rounded chin, the bow-shaped lips drawn closed, the straight nose leading to the broad arched eyebrows, the eyelids partially lowered in contemplation, the face framed by pendulous ears to either side and an openwork diadem surrounding the ushnisha, the diadem comprising five large bejeweled roundels, each centered with a tassel, a double-chain of further jewels suspended between each roundel, the diadem secured by a sash with the loose ends draping behind the ears, traces of pigment, secured to a later base
Height 16 in., 40.7 cm
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Provenance

Collection of Tejiro Yamamoto (1870-1937).
Alice Boney, New York, 3rd February 1983.
Collection of Florence (1920-2018) and Herbert (1917-2016) Irving, no. 860.

Description

This stone head is sumptuously carved with fleshy cheeks, broad arched brows and a large straight nose that leads the eye down to the plump lips. Its features exemplify a crucial sculptural transition from the linear and structured depictions of bodhisattvas in the preceding Northern Qi (550-577) and Northern Zhou (557-581) periods to the fully rounded and fleshy forms of the Tang dynasty (618-907). Its oval face and idealized expression, which exude deep spirituality, display an early attempt at naturalism, while its richly carved crown with suspended beads and floral diamonds is reminiscent of the stylized aesthetic of the preceding dynasties.

The Sui dynasty unified China in 589 after a long period of cultural, political and military disunion, which began with the fall of the Han dynasty in 220 AD. Buddhism was seen as a means to unify the Empire and consolidate dynastic power, hence Sui rulers began the construction of major religious buildings and commissioned Buddhist images. While stylistically Sui sculptures continue in the tradition established in the preceding dynasties, 'characteristics that were latent in the two preceding styles were brought to full blossom by Sui carvers' (Angela F. Howard, Chinese Sculpture, New Haven, 2006, p. 290). Osvald Siren in ‘Chinese Marble Sculptures of the Transition Period’, BMFEA 1940, no. 12, p. 490, states that 'The observation of nature seems indeed to have increased as well as the mastery of the sculptural form'.

Excavations at Qingzhou, in Shandong province, have yielded Northern Qi and Sui limestone figures of bodhisattvas, with full oval faces and crowns carved with intricate diadems, pendent tassels and articulated bands. Two standing bodhisattvas from this group are illustrated in Masterpieces of Buddhist Statuary from Qingzhou City, Beijing, 1999, pp 132-134.

This head also shares similarities with a stone head from the Jingyatang Collection, included in the exhibition The Art of Contemplation – Religious Sculpture from Private Collections, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1997, cat. no. 62, and sold in these rooms, 20th March 2018, lot 204; two standing figures illustrated in Matsubara SaburōChūgoku Bukkyō chōkoku shiron [Historical survey of Chinese Buddhist sculpture], Tokyo, 1995, vol. 3, pls 559 and 561; and a figure in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, illustrated in Denise Patry Leidy and Donna Strahan, Wisdom Embodied: Chinese Buddhist and Daoist Sculpture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New Haven, 2010, fig. A16. See also two standing figures attributed to the Northern Qi dynasty, in the Cincinnati Art Museum, illustrated in Ellen B. Avril, Chinese Art in the Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, 1998, pl. 20.

 

Chinese Art from the Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Florence and Herbert Irving Gift

|
New York