Lot 739. A rare painted marble Buddhist stele, Northern Qi dynasty (AD 550-577); 13 in. (33 cm.) high, padauk stand. Estimate USD 60,000 - USD 80,000. Price realised USD 277,200. © Christie's 2022
The stele is carved with a central standing bodhisattva with his right hand raised in abhayamudra and left hand lowered, flanked by a pair of attendants, and a further pair of bodhisattvas, all below two intertwined bodhi trees backing the figures. The stele is supported on a rectangular base, carved on the front with a censer flanked by a pair of attendants and a pair of lions.
Provenance: Galaxie Art (B. K. Wong), Hong Kong, 23 November 1987.
Note: This handsome sculpture belongs to a group of distinctive openwork steles carved from creamy white marble produced in Hebei province during the Northern Qi period, mid-sixth century. This group typically features a central figure flanked by two or four attendant figures below a pair of bodhi trees, the branches of which intertwine to form a mandorla, all of which is raised on a plinth carved with various figures and lions flanking a central incense burner. A comparable stele with a central figure of seated Maitreya Buddha, dated to the 3rd year of Tianbao (AD 552), in the Ohara Museum of Art, is illustrated in Hai-wai yi-zhen: Chinese Art in Overseas Collections - Buddhist Sculpture (II), Taipei, 1990, p. 51, no. 47. Another related stele, with a central figure of seated pensive Maitreya Buddha, dated to the 2nd year of Tianbao (AD 551), in the Avery Brundage Collection, is illustrated in Gems of Chinese Art from the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, Hong Kong, 1983, pp. 230-231, no. 101.
Christie's. Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, New York, 25 march 2022