Rare 9th Century Jain bronze leads Bonhams Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Art auction in New York

NEW YORK — A solid-cast copper alloy figure of a Digambara Jina, or Jain saint, will lead the September 18 Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Art auction at Bonhams New York (est. $100,000-150,000). The figure dates from the 9th century and was probably cast in Tamil Nadu, where Jainism experienced a revival in the 8th and 9th centuries, following an influx of migrants. Only a handful of Jain bronzes from the period survive. Formerly in the collection of Mrs Julian B. Herrmann, the bronze has been in the same private collection since the 1970s.

With supple curvature marked by a fleshy waist, the naked figure stands in the body abandoning pose, or kayotsarga. The shrivatsa mark appearing above the right breast is especially striking. Whereas this auspicious mark appears ubiquitously at the centre of the chest of any Jina from North India, it is extremely rare amongst South Indian Jain images.

The sale is dominated by a large group of Indian paintings from the 16th-20th centuries. The highlights include an illustration to the Bhagavata Purana of Krishna, Balrama and Nanda receiving Akrura (est. $40,000-60,000), attributable to Fattu, painted in Guler/Basholi in the Punjab Hills, circa 1765-1770. On the contemporary side is an iconic acrylic on canvas by Raza, entitled Naga, 2001(est. $30,000-40,000).

Beautiful gilt bronzes will appear alongside the Jain figure, most notably a 14th century gilt copper alloy figure of Akshobhya from Nepal or Tibet, from a private Canadian Collection, where it has been for decades (est. $100,000-150,000). Bonhams will also offer an 11th/12th century Western Tibetan copper alloy figure of Padmapani from a private New York collection (est. $30,000-50,000). Also available is a superb thangka of Red Tara from 18th century Tibet (est. $30,000-50,000).

Several remarkable Indian sandstone sculptures will also be offered on September 18. One example, a sandstone stele of Kurukulla from Eastern India, 9th/10th century, showing the sensuous young goddess of enchantment brimming with floral imagery, ranks among the top tier for sculptures produced during the early Pala Period (est. $50,000-70,000). A Rajasthani sandstone stele of Shiva Bhairava, of similar age, will also be up for auction, coming from the Lyon Family Collection in Los Angeles, where it has been since 1971 (est. $10,000-15,000).

"The September 18 auction focuses on excellent pieces coming from esteemed private collections. We are very pleased to present so many pieces that are fresh to the market," said Edward Wilkinson, Bonhams Consulting Specialist in Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Art.

Bonhams Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Art auction will take place September 18 in New York. The auction will preview at Bonhams from September 13-18. A fully illustrated catalogue will be available at www.bonhams.com/auctions/20997.


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 valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com

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