Sotheby's announces Indian & Southeast Asian Works of Art Sale on 20 March 2013
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Sotheby's announces Indian & Southeast Asian Works of Art Sale on 20 March 2013
A Rare and Important Thangka Depicting Mahasiddha Avadhutipa, Central Tibet, Ngor Monastery, circa 1600. Est. $300/500,000. Photo: Sotheby's.

NEW YORK, NY.- On 20 March 2013, Sotheby’s New York will present Indian & Southeast Asian Works of Art as part of the Asia Week series of auctions. The approximately 130 lot sale includes a stunning array of important thangkas, one of the most important groups of Indian folk bronzes in the world, an excellent selection of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain art, and over 30 exquisite Indian miniature paintings. Works will be on view in our York Avenue galleries beginning 15 March 2013.

The sale is highlighted by two paintings from the famed Ngor Monastery, renowned for commissioning some of the most significant thangkas in Tibet, which depict Sachen Kunga Nyingpo, known as the first of the Five Great Sakya Masters, and Mahasiddha Avadhutipa (est. $300/500,000 each). These spiritual paintings are renowned for their elegance, supreme artistry and delicate execution. The two exquisite works are from a larger set of important paintings that can be found in collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art and The Brooklyn Museum, New York; as well as in published private collections such as Navin Kumar, Lionel Fournier and Michael Henss.

A further highlight is a highly important thangka depicting Yamantaka Vajrabhairava, which is a masterful example of an 18th century Tibetan painting (est. $250/350,000). This exceptional and large-scale work exhibits an immense size, skilled draughtsmanship and vibrancy of the coloring. Delicate landscape elements create a beautiful naturalistic setting for the deities, who occupy the center stage of the painting. Yamantaka Vajrabhairava, the central figure, is the main deity of the Gelug order of Tibetan Buddhism, dark blue in color, with nine heads, thirty-four arms and sixteen legs. The inscription on the reverse of the work indicates that the painting was commissioned and blessed at the Great monastic college of Danyakatakuri, which is within the monastery of Gonglun Jampa Ling in Amdo, Eastern Tibet.

Also included in the sale is a large and very rare and intricately carved black stone stele of Vishnu which is an exceptional example of 11th / 12th century North Indian sculpture coming from a Private Virginia Collection (est. $200/300,000). A beautifully cast 11th century bronze figure of Parvati from the Chola period has been part of several world famous collections of Indian and Southeast Asian art during the 20th century, notably: Christian Humann’s historic Pan Asian Collection and that of visionary collector Dr. J.R. Belmont and legendary connoisseur Robert Hatfield Ellsworth ($120/180,000). The current work is originally part of a pair; its companion figure of Shiva Nataraja, was gifted to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1987 by Mr. Ellsworth, where it is currently on view. The Chola period is notable for its unparalleled cultural and artistic achievements and is widely considered to be a ‘golden age’ in Indian history.

This rare and significant 17th century copper alloy sculpture known as the ‘Demon bronze’ is to date the most well-known, widely published and frequently exhibited Indian folk bronze in the world (est. $60/90,000). The highlight of the Leo Figiel, M.D. Collection, the Demon bronze has been featured in four major museum exhibitions, including two of the first groundbreaking exhibitions on Indian art in the United States: Unknown India: Ritual Art in Tribe and Village at The Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1968, curated by the late Dr. Stella Kramrisch; as well as INDIA! at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1985, curated by the late Stuart Cary Welch. The Demon bronze is particularly unusual due to its large size, hollow casting, and the bands of open space in the sculpture. Its powerful demeanour makes it a landmark work of Indian folk art.

Among the fine selection of Indian court paintings on offer in the sale is Maharaja Ram Singh with Courtiers (est. $20/30,000) circa 1830. A further highlight is An Illustration to the Ramayana: Rama and Lakshmana are Wounded (est. $20/30,000), circa 1790. The genre of miniatures is one of the fastest growing collecting categories today.

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