13 avril 2016

A large 'Yungang' sandstone head of Buddha , Northern Wei dynasty (386-534)

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Lot 2814. A large 'Yungang' sandstone head of Buddha , Northern Wei dynasty (386-534). Estimate 500,000 — 600,000 HKD (56,463 — 67,756 EUR). Lot sold 750,000 HKD (84,695 EUR). Photo Sotheby's 2016.

the eyebrows rising across the broad brow in a slight curve issuing from the low bridge of the nose, the eyes with gaze gently cast downwards, with small full lips upturned at the corners in a benevolent smile, the slender face framed by ears ending in fragmentary pendulous lobes, all beneath a straight hairline, the thick hair piled high in a large ushnisha, metal stand; 43 cm, 16 7/8  in.

ProvenanceHoward Hollis & Co., 1957.
Collection of Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh (inventory no. 57.45.1).
Eskenazi Ltd., London.

NoteThe carving of this head draws on the tradition of the Yungang caves near Datong in Shanxi province, which were largely constructed between 398 AD and 494 AD, when Pingcheng, modern Datong, was capital of the Northern Wei period.  Several sandstone carved heads of the Buddha with similar features can be seen in the niches of Cave I or II.

Compare a sandstone head of a Buddha from the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art with similar features but a slightly different treatment of the eyes, illustrated in Handbook of the Collection, 1993, p. 303; and a complete standing figure with a similar head, in the Musée Guimet, Paris, published in Chinese Art in Overseas Collections: Buddhist Sculpture, vol. II, Tokyo, 1990, pl. 9. For a head of similar quality sold at auction, see a smaller sandstone head of Buddha from the collection of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, sold in our New York rooms, 20th March 2007, lot 727.

Sotheby's. Literati / Curiosity II, Hong Kong, 05 Apr 2016


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