A rare and important marble figure of a Buddhist disciple Tang Dynasty, dated by inscription to AD718
Lot 231
A rare and important marble figure of a Buddhist disciple
Tang Dynasty, dated by inscription to AD718
Sold for £181,250 (US$ 285,606) inc. premium

Lot Details
A rare and important marble figure of a Buddhist disciple Tang Dynasty, dated by inscription to AD718 A rare and important marble figure of a Buddhist disciple Tang Dynasty, dated by inscription to AD718 A rare and important marble figure of a Buddhist disciple Tang Dynasty, dated by inscription to AD718 A rare and important marble figure of a Buddhist disciple Tang Dynasty, dated by inscription to AD718 A rare and important marble figure of a Buddhist disciple Tang Dynasty, dated by inscription to AD718 A rare and important marble figure of a Buddhist disciple Tang Dynasty, dated by inscription to AD718
The Property of a Gentleman 紳士藏品
A rare and important marble figure of a Buddhist disciple
Tang Dynasty, dated by inscription to AD718
The serene sculpture probably representing Ananda, known as Guardian of the Dharma, subtly carved from a finely-grained warm honey-toned marble, standing facing forwards with his gaze downcast in a serene expression, the rounded face set with narrowed eyes below the high arched eyebrows, with the elegantly-carved nose above the tightly-closed mouth and well-defined chin, the bald and smooth head with full cheeks and elongated ears, the right hand in varada mudra extended down parallel to the body with the open hand clasping a beaded rosary, the left hand in abhaya mudra with the arm elevated and facing outwards, the disciple clad in flowing robes over his shoulders and cascading in arched waves below the chest revealing the inner garment held in a knot tied below the chest, the bare feet protruding below the robes, the disciple raised on a circular dais encircled by lotus petal panels set above a square pedestal, the back of the figure realistically carved with the robes falling in folds over the body and over the pedestal inscribed with a dedicatory inscription with a date corresponding to AD 718.
81cm (32in) high (2).

Footnotes

  • Provenance: Filatriau Collection, France, prior to 1936
    Sold at the Hotel Drouot, Paris, 10 November 1936, lot 340
    A French private collection and thence by descent

    Published: Collection Filatriau: Objets D'Art de la Chine, Hotel Drouot, Paris, 10 November 1936, lot 340; illustrated on the front cover.

    The Filatriau Collection auction catalogue will be sold as part of this lot.

    唐 開元五年(AD 718) 大理石雕佛徒

    來源: 1936前,法國Filatriau收藏
    德魯奧,巴黎,1936年11月10日,拍賣品號340
    法國私人收藏,並由家族繼承下去

    出版: 巴黎德魯奧1936年11月10日Collection Filatriau: Objets D'Art de la Chine圖錄,拍賣品號340,並且顯示在圖錄封面上。

    Collection Filatriau: Objets D'Art de la Chine圖錄為拍賣品一部份。


    The inscription reads:

    大唐開元五年四月十二敬造

    'Made respectfully on the 12th day of the 4th month of the 5th year of the Kaiyuan era in the Great Tang'

    Leonce Filatriau was born in Pondichéry (Tamil Nadu, India) on 13 April 1875. He was the eldest son of Adolphe Filatriau, Lieutenant Governor and Secretary General of the Pondichéry government. After completing his studies in Pondichéry and in France, he started his political career working for the Home Office in the Pondichéry government. In late 1900, Léonce Filatriau was transferred to Dahomey in French West Africa, where his uncle Henri Filatriau worked as a civil administrator.

    In late 1902 Léonce Filatriau was transferred to the General Government of Indochina (Vietnam) in the Finance Office, where he eventually became Chief Civil Administrator at the General Ministry of the Hanoi government.
    During his 35 years spent in the Far East, Léonce Filatriau patiently built up an imposing collection of Chinese art objects, including this rare Tang Dynasty marble figure, which was the highlight of his collection.

    Returning to France in 1932, after the premature death of his wife Marie-Blanche (1927), Léonce Filatriau decided to put his collection up for auction in 1936. This event was covered in the well-known French newspaper Le Figaro on October 1936 in an article titled Vente D'Une Imposante et Magnifique Collection Chinoise. His dearest wish was to return to Asia in order to spend his retirement building a collection even more exquisite than his previous one. However, due to the outbreak of the Second World War he was not able to fulfil his dream. He died on 1 March 1943 in Paris, aged 68.

    This marble figure of a Buddhist disciple, probably Ananda, is remarkable for its documentary inscription incised on the reverse of the pedestal, which may be translated as 'Made respectfully on the 12th day of the 4th month of the 5th year of the Kaiyuan era in the Great Tang' corresponding to AD 718, during the reign of the Xuanzong Emperor. The marble figure is exceptionally well sculpted, successfully rendering the peaceful and contemplative expression, and the elegant and finely sculpted lines of the robe falling in waves at the front over the undergarment secured by a knot at the chest and draped over the arms in a realistic manner. The figure is sculpted with the left hand raised in abhaya mudra and the right hand in varada mudra holding a rosary.

    The Tang Dynasty Emperors used all three major beliefs – Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism - to secure popular support for their dynasty and in so doing reinforced the close association of sculpture and State; see A.Paludan, Chinese Sculpture: A Great Tradition, Chicago, 2006, p.270. The present extremely rare marble figure of a disciple belongs to the Buddhist category and resembles in its modelling a monumental limestone figure of a disciple, Tang Dynasty, from the Fengxian temple, Longmen in Henan province, illustrated by A. Flaco Howard in Chinese Sculpture, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, 2006, p.300, pl.106. See also a related monumental sculpture of the Buddhist disciple Ananda, Tang Dynasty, from Sichuan province, illustrated by A. Falco Howard in Tang Buddhist Sculpture of Sichuan: Unknown and Forgotten, The Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm, Bulletin no.60, p.86, pl.7. Further related examples include disciples flanking Buddha in the Qianfodong (Cave of a Thousand Buddhas) dated to the early Tang period; see also those in the Longmen Grottoes, Luoyang, Henan Province, illustrated by A.Paludan, ibid. p.293, fig.178; and other examples in Cyugoku Sekkutsu: Ryumon Sekkutsu, vol.2, Heibonsha series, 1988, pls.55 and 64.

    See also a slightly larger (92cm high) sandstone figure of a luohan, Tang Dynasty, identified as Sravaka, in the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm, illustrated in Zhong guo lin shi hai wai fo jiao zao xiang zhong he tu mu, vol.6, Beijing, 2005, p.1137 (Comprehensive Illustrated Catalogue of Chinese Buddhist Statues in Overseas Collections).

    Compare also a similar but smaller (62cm high) rare marble figure of a Buddhist disciple, Tang Dynasty, illustrated by Osvald Siren in Annales du Musée Guimet, Bibliothèque d'Art, Nouvelle Série I, La Sculpture Chinoise de Ve au XIVe Siècle, Tome III, Paris, 1926, pl.374, from Collection Rousset, Paris, illustrated in the auction catalogue of The Collection of Mr Mamdouh Riaz Ancien Ministre, Cairo, 1955, subsequently sold in these rooms on 17 May 2011, lot 101.

    We would like to thank Prof. Chen Xiaolin of Beijing Normal University, for his generous assistance regarding the calligraphy of the inscription on the present lot.
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