Lot 106. A large and finely-cast inscribed bronze figure of Avalokitesvara, Ming dynasty (1368-1644); 15 ¾ in. (40 cm.) high. Estimate GBP 20,000 - GBP 40,000. Price realised GBP 212,500. © Christie's Images Ltd 2020
The deity is cast seated in dhyanasana on a double lotus throne, the right hand raised in abhaya mudra, the gesture of teaching, and the left hand holding a cup. The figure has downcast eyes and hair upswept into a top knot surmounted by a flower bud beneath an elaborate tiered crown, two long plaits falling down each shoulder. The figure wears long flowing robes open at the chest to reveal a beaded necklace. The hems of the robe are finely detailed with flower heads and an incised foliate scroll and the folds are skillfully rendered. The reverse of the base bears an incised 26-character inscription that reads "Daming zhengtong jiu nian mengchun shi you liu ri fa xin shanren ? Yinjin dao you sun liujinjia zao" dating it to the ninth year of the reign of Zhengtong, corresponding to 1444.
Provenance: Property from a private English collection, acquired by the vendor's mother in the first half of the 20th century, then by descent within the family.
Note: The inscription may be translated as "Sixteenth day of spring, ninth year of the Zhengtong reign of the Great Ming". It also mentions the names of three families, "Sun, Liu and Jin". This sculpture would originally have been gilded and traces of the gilding can be seen in the crevices of the lotus base. A gilt-bronze figure of Buddha with a lengthy inscription to the rear of the base corresponding to the cyclical year date 1437 of the Zhengtong period was sold at Christie's New York, 19 Septmeber 2006, lot 133 and a gilt-bronze sculpture of Akshobya inscribed and dated 1439 was sold at Sotheby's Paris, 10 December 2019, lot 18.
Christie's. Important Chinese Art, London, 3 November 2020