• Indian and Southeast Asian Art auction at Christies

    Sale 2300

    Indian and Southeast Asian Art

    23 March 2010, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 218

    A rare Imperial Gilt Bronze and Cloisonné Figure of Amitayus


    Price Realised  


    A rare Imperial Gilt Bronze and Cloisonné Figure of Amitayus
    Tibeto-Chinese, 18th century
    Seated in dhyanasana on a double-lotus base with inlaid cloisonné and a beaded rim, the hands in dhyanamudra supporting the vessel of the elixir of immortality, clad in a long sanghati with incised hems, adorned with various necklaces inset with hardstones, the face with heavy-lidded eyes centered by a raised urna and flanked by large pendant earrings, the hair pulled into a high chignon topped with a finial and secured with a tiara, backed by an aureola inlaid with cloisonné and supporting the gilt throneback centered by Garuda
    13 in. (33 cm.) high

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    It is very rare to find Tibeto-Chinese examples of Buddhist sculpture incorporating enamel cloisonné, which is employed here to such great effect. An exact mate to this sculpture is in the collection of Berti Aschmann, see H. Uhlig, On the Path to Enlightenment, 1995, cat. no. 34, but missing the openwork gilt throneback topped by Garuda as in the present example. It is possible that they originally formed part of a group of corresponding images, created for an important Imperial birthday, for which images of Amitayus would have been a popular choice, representing longevity, a practice famously adopted by the Kangxi Emperor as well as Qianlong.

    Compare a figure of Amitayus with the robes inlaid, see Beijing Publishing House, Buddhist Statues in Yonghegong, 2001, cat. no. 48; a figure of Maitreya attributed to the Imperial workshops in Beijing, see The Palace Museum (ed.), Iconography and Styles: Tibetan Statues in the Palace Museum, 2002, p. 220f., cat. no. 84, and from the Imperial Palace at Chengde, such as a Qianlong enamel stupa, see J. Hsu (publ.), Tibetan Buddhist images and ritual objects from the Qing dynasty Summer Palace at Chengde, 1999, cat. no. 77.


    Acquired in Zurich, 1996

    Pre-Lot Text

    Property from the Collection of Veena and Peter Schnell