NEW YORK, N.Y.- Sotheby
Indian & Southeast Asian Works of Art sale on 24 March in New York will be led by a spectacular 10th century Khmer Koh Ker period Athlete from a European private collection (est. $2/3 million). Acquired by the original owner over 40 years ago, the figure is mate to the Koh Ker athlete at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena that is almost identical in posture and physical appearance. The sale also includes early South and Southeast Asian stone and bronze sculpture, Indian miniature painting, Tibetan and Himalayan bronzes, the famous Pearl Canopy of Baroda, Raj-era silver and fine ivory works. Overall the 112 lot auction is estimated to fetch $8.2/12.2 million.
The Khmer Athlete was commissioned by emperor Jayavarman IV (r. 914 928) for his new capital at Koh Ker 80 miles north of Angkor. Koh Ker sculptures are among the great masterpieces of Khmer art. The impressive size and quality of the figure reflects the prestige and importance of the ruler who commissioned it as well of the skill of his craftsmen. The Athletes pose derives from Cambodian dance postures which often depicted Hindu epics and mythology. These dances have been a constant feature in the countrys long history. The imposing stance of this figure indicates that it was more significant than a mere temple guardian. Indeed, the Athlete would have been a major mythological figure, instantly recognizable to the Khmer elite of the day and this depiction stands as one of the great achievements of Khmer art.
A further important Khmer work in the sale is a sandstone Standing Shiva, Baphuon style, from the 11th century (est. $300/500,000). This beautifully modeled figure is arguably one of the finest sculptures of the Baphuon School. Its expressive face includes a third eye on the forehead identifying the figure as Shiva.
An exquisite silver and copper inlaid Pala bronze from eastern India depicting the bodhisattva Manjushri, one of the most iconic deities in Mahayana Buddhism, belongs to the 11th /12th century (est. $200/300,000). This superb sculpture demonstrates the refinement of Pala figuration which was known for its elegance and highly stylized motifs.
The section on South Indian bronzes is highlighted by a fine copper alloy sculpture of the Jina Parsvanatha dating to the 9th century that has been in the same collection for nearly 50 years (est. $150/200,000). The unclad figure of the Jina stands on a tiered plinth scattered with ritual implements. The unusual anchor shaped srivatsa on the Jinas chest as well as the paleography of the Grantha inscription on the base, confirm the sculptures early date.
A pair of exceptional Tibeto-Chinese gilt bronzes from the Qing Dynasty are highlights of the Tibetan works in the sale (est.$150/200,000 each). The sculptures depict The Arhats Kalika and Ajita, enlightened disciples of Shakyamuni Buddha.
The group of Indian miniatures in the sale is led by An Illustration to the Gita Govinda: Krishna Adorns his beloved Radha (est. $150/250,000). The painting depicts a scene from the Gita Govinda (Song of the Dark Lord) composed by the 12th century poet Jayadeva. The verse is homage to the incarnation of the Supreme Being Vishnu as Krishna, the Divine Lover. Here Krishna is seen tenderly tying a jeweled girdle around the waist of his beloved Radha after their tryst on the banks of the Yamuna.
The auction ends with a selection of fine decorative works including a pair of rare ceremonial ivory sandals of Sri Lankan origin dating to the 18th/19th century (est. $40/60,000), a sumptuous early-19th century gilt silver Pandaan of Deccani origin (est. $80/120,000) and a pair of finely-wrought silver goblets by Omerse Mawji of Kutch (est. $30/50,000) the lead Raj-era silversmith of India.