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Arts of India, Southeast Asia, and the Himalayas Online / A RECHUNGPA AMITAYUS LINEAGE THANGKA TIBET, LATE 16TH/17TH CENTURY

Lot 393
15 – 25 March 2022, 10:00 EDT
Online, New York

Sold for US$11,475 inc. premium

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Distemper on cloth; verso with a Tibetan 'om ah hum' incantation in bold red script and an English inscription in black ink.
Himalayan Art Resources item no.4548
Image: 34 1/2 x 22 1/2 in. (87.8 x 57 cm);
With silks: 50 x 27 1/8 in. (127 x 69 cm)


西藏 十六世紀末/十七世紀 惹瓊巴傳無量壽佛傳承唐卡

The thangka depicts the rare lineage of Amitayus according to the Rechungpa tradition. Rechungpa Dorje Drakpa (10850-1161) was a famous student of Milarepa, but actually received this Amitayus tradition from a pandit while on a trip to India and subsequently taught it to his master. Another Rechungpa Amitayus lineage thankga is in the University of Michigan Museum of Anthropological Archaeology (HAR#92040).

The thangka's deep blue sky and opaque red aureoles follow a 16th-to-17th-century style exemplified by a portrait thangka of Konchog Pel sold at Bonhams, Paris (Online), 1-10 June 2021, lot 54. The present thangka's thin-stripped clouds are redolent of the painting tradition at Gyantse. The treatment of the central figure of Amitayus appears to be a strong stylistic precursor to the 10,000 gilt bronze Amitayus sculptures the Qianlong Emperor (r.1735-96) commissioned in celebration of his 60th birthday and the birthday of the Empress Dowager, such as an example sold at Bonhams, Hong Kong, 26 May 2014, lot 162.

The painting has an impressive provenance. In penned calligraphy on the thangka's back is an English inscription:

"To Dr. E. Hart,
Scroll Idols from Darge monastery, ando [sic], Tibet.
Worshipped by Tibetans.
WM Christie
C. & M. A.,
Ando [sic]".

This painting was a gift by William Christie (1870-1955), dubbed the "Apostle to Tibet" in Howard Van Dyck's 1956 biography. Christie was one of the first members of the Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) in Tibet, arriving around 1892 and living in Tibet for more than 30 years. He gifted this painting to Helen Hart Reynolds, the wife of a surgeon, Dr. Edgerton H. Hart, who served for nearly two decades starting in 1895 as the Director of Yichisan Hospital in Wuhu, the oldest continuous running western hospital in Anhui Province, China.

Gift of William Christie (1870-1955) to Helen Hart Reynolds, early 20th century
Private American Collection

Saleroom notices

Please note this correction to the lot's provenance: the painting was gifted by William Christie to Dr. Edgerton Hart (as per inscription verso). The painting was then inherited by Helen Hart Reynolds, who was Dr. Hart's daughter. Subsequently, the painting passed by inheritance further to the present day. The provenance line should therefore correctly read as follows.
Gift of William Christie (1870-1955) to Dr. Edgerton Hart, early 20th century Thence by descent to the present owner

Additional information