The Estate of Natasha Eilenberg highlights the Bonhams Himalayan, Indian and Southeast Asian auction

11 Sep 2012, Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Art

The Estate of Natasha Eilenberg highlights the Bonhams Himalayan, Indian and Southeast Asian auction

11 Sep 2012, Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Art

New York—Bonhams is delighted to include Indian and Southeast Asian art from the Estate of Natasha Eilenberg in the September 11 auction of Indian, Himalayan and Southeast Asian Art during New York Asia Week.

A highlight to this 20 piece the collection is a staggering 7th/8th century bronze figure of Buddha from the Mon Dvaravati culture in Thailand (pre-sale est. $250,000-350,000). Cast in frontal position, with both arms bent at the elbows, on a parallel level and his hands displaying the vitarka mudra (signifying the act of teaching the dharma or explication). Typical of the period, the Buddha has a broad face, full lips and elongated eyes conveying a sublime expression.

This is the most important Mon Dvaravati sculpture to appear in the market in over twenty-five years. With exceptional provenance dating prior to 1969 together with broad affection and respect for Natasha Eilenberg the Buddha will be of interest an international group of museums and collectors.

As expressed by Jean Boisselier in The Heritage of Thai Sculpture, 1975, "The school of Dvaravati may stand alongside the great Buddhist artistic traditions of India, so enduring were its innovations and so persuasive its influence on most of the art of Southeast Asia." A closely related example is in the National Museum, Bangkok.

About Natasha Eilenberg (1919-2012)

Natasha was an outstanding independent scholar of the art and culture of India and Southeast Asia. She produced a number of important publications based on her own research, as well as, translations from the French of Jean Boisselier, one of the twentieth century's most influential historians of Khmer art.

Natasha came to the U.S.A. in 1946 where her travel experience led her to open a travel agency that she sold in 1967. During this time Natasha married Samuel Eilenberg, a mathematics professor at Columbia University. The marriage ended in a divorce and it was during this period that she began to study the art of India and Southeast Asia.

She began to travel to Paris to attend lectures at the Sorbonne and became a student of professor Jean Boisselier. Natasha developed a close professional and personal relationship with another famous Sorbonne art historian, professor Madeleine Giteau who worked on the Khmer art of Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. Khmer art became Natasha's scholarly focus.

Her close relationship with professor Boisselier and the familiarity with his often complex scholarship led her to produce two English translations of his publications. She published in 1989 a translation of Boisselier's Tendances de l'art khmer (Trends in Khmer Art), published by Cornell University's Southeast Asia Program which quickly sold out. In 2008 Natasha published a volume of edited and translated articles by Boisselier titled Studies on the Art of Ancient Cambodia: Ten Articles by Jean Boisselier, published by Reyum in Phnom Penh. Besides these two long translations, the great respect she had for Boisselier inspired yet another publication in 1997, a volume of essays with over 40 contributions from scholars from around the world, which was a birthday present for Boisselier on his 80th Birthday (Living a Life in Accord with Dhamma: Papers in Honor of Professor Jean Boisselier, published by Silpakorn University in Bangkok), for which she was both an editor and a contributor. She published as well articles on the Jain art of India and Cham art of Vietnam, and was a consultant for The Wisdom of the Buddha published by Harry N. Abrams in 1994.

For Natasha the art object was always given primacy, and she was renowned for her curatorial eye. Her influence went well beyond her publications as she gave opinions on quality and authenticity of Southeast Asian art.


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and appraisal services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to

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