An Illustration to a Ramayana Series: Rama and Lakshmana confer with the monkey army. image: 8 x 12 in. (20.5 x 30.5 cm), folio: 10 x 14 in. (25.3 x 35.5 cm). Sold for $74,500; Est. $25,000 - 35,000. Photo: Courtesy Bonhams.
NEW YORK, NY.- With outstanding results seen in virtually every collecting category at the recent September auction, Bonhams has firmly established itself within the robust market of Southeast Asian, Indian and Himalayan art. The sale garnered international attention from private collectors and institutions alike, with competitive bidding in the salesroom, on the telephones and online. In many cases, prices realized exceeded the high end of the pre-sale auction estimates, as interest continues to shift towards the remarkable stability of the Asian antiquities market.
On the heels of its inaugural sale in March 2012, which saw record breaking prices for traditional Indian painting, Bonhams can now add a Mon Dvaravati bronze which sold for $673,500 to its list of world records. The sculpture came from the collection of Natasha Eilenberg, a well-respected independent scholar of the art and culture of India and Southeast Asia. Called the Eilenberg Buddha, this stunning example of the influential Dvaravati school, with impeccable provenance, was the most important sculpture of its kind to have appeared in the market in recent years. Originally estimated between $250,000-$350,000, the piece is now in the hands of an institution with a notable Southeast Asian collection.
Bonhams continues to dominate in the traditional Indian painting market, as evidenced by record price realized for an illustration to the Ramayana series, Rama and Lakshmana confer with the Monkey Army. Distinguished by its lush foliage, this opaque watercolor and gold page soared past its original estimate of $25,000-$35,000, eventually selling after lengthy bidding for $74,500. Another highlight from this section was an illustration to the ‘third’ Rasamanjari of Bhanu Dutta: The intoxicated courtesan, which sold for $67,500. This late 17th century illustration represents the most creative phase of Basohli art and was the first page of its kind to appear in the market in 30 years.
Tibetan sculpture, paintings and works of art were also well represented. Of particular note was the visually arresting 18th century thangka of Chakrasamvara, rendered in very fine detail that sold for $51,660 against an estimate of $20,000-30,000.