Lot 734. A very rare bronze seated figure of Buddha, Northern Wei dynasty (AD 386-534); 7 3⁄8 in. (18.8 cm.) high. Estimate USD 60,000 - USD 80,000. Price realised USD 327,600. © Christie's 2022
The Buddha is shown seated in dhyanasana on a lotus base, wearing a simple robe that is wrapped around the body and draped over the left shoulder. His face is sensitively cast with a serene, meditative expression with half-closed eyes framed by large, pendulous ear lobes below the curled hair. The reverse is cast with two tabs for attachment of a mandorla.
Provenance: Important private Japanese collection, prior to 1955, and thence by descent within the family.
Literature: Osvald Sirén, Chinese Sculpture from the Fifth to the Fourteenth Century, vol. 1, London, 1925, pl. 279 A.
Tokyo National Museum, Gilt Bronze Buddhist Statues in Japan, Tokyo, 1955, no. 4.
Matsubara Saburo, Research on the History of Chinese Buddhist Sculpture, Tokyo, 1961, no. 32 a, b.
Ancient Chinese Art - The Origin of Japanese Art, Kagawa, 1968, F9.
Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts, Chinese Art from Six Dynasties, Osaka, 1975, no. 3-160.
Tokyo National Museum, Gilt Bronze Buddhist Statues - China, Korea, Japan, 1988, no. 13, p.17 and p.85.
Yamato Bunkakan, Chinese Gilt Bronze Statues of Buddhism, Tokyo, 1992, no. 16.
Jin Shen in Hai wai ji Gong Yai cang li dai fo xiang: zhen pin ji nian cu jian (Catalogue of Treasures of Buddhist Sculpture in Overseas Collections including Hong Kong and Taiwan), Shanxi, 2007, p. 420.
Exhibited: Tokyo, Tokyo National Museum, Gilt Bronze Buddhist Statues in Japan, 1 - 30 November 1955, no. 4.
Kagawa Prefecture, Kagawa Prefectural Cultural Hall, Ancient Chinese Art - The Origin of Japanese Art, 1968.
Osaka, The Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts, Art of the Six Dynasties, 10 October - 9 November 1975.
Tokyo, The Museum Yamato Bunkakan, Chinese Gilt Bronze Statues of Buddhism, 2 October - 8 November 1992.
Note: The style of the current figure, with its narrow head, sloping eyes, and flame-like folds on the robes, recall the figures of Buddha found at the Yungang Buddhist grottos, which also date to the 5th century. A similar figure in gilt bronze, dated to AD 477 of the Northern Wei period, in the Nitta Collection, was included in the National Palace Museum exhibition, The Crucible of Compassion and Wisdom, Taipei, 1987, p. 154 and cover. See, also, the similar gilt-bronze seated figure of Buddha, dated to the second half of the fifth century, illustrated by L. Sickman, “Monsters and Elegance: Nine Centuries of Chinese Sculpture,” Apollo, March 1973, p. 241, no. 3, and a stylistically similar Buddhist shrine, dated to AD 494 of the Northern Wei Dynasty, pp. 241-42, no. 4.
Christie's. Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, New York, 25 march 2022