New York – Christie’s is pleased to present Masterpieces of Early Tibetan Painting from the Collection of Heidi and Helmut Neumann on March 19, which will feature eight extraordinary masterworks. Heidi & Helmut Neumann, respected collectors and connoisseurs, have collected some of the finest examples of Tibetan works of art since the early 1960s, maintaining a steadfast vision that their collection focus on paintings from the 12th to 14th centuries that are both compositionally and artistically extraordinary. Most of the masterpieces to be offered have been included in important publications and exhibitions, and a few that have never been published or seen in decades.
A rare and important thangka of Buddha with the One Hundred Jataka Tales
Tibet, 13th/14th century
45 x 33 ¼ in. (114.3 x 84.4 cm)
The Jataka Tales are the didactic stories that relate the previous lives of the Buddha. The future Buddha may appear in either human or animal form, exhibiting some virtue that the story reveals. In this painting, each story is identified by name and number in the inscription, beginning at the top center and move clockwise around the figure of the Buddha and two disciples, ending again at the top center. This is the only painting known with all one hundred stories depicted in a single composition. This painting has been in the Neumann collection since 1990 and has never been published, until now.
An important and early painting of Akshobya
Tibet, 13th century
29 3/8 x 23 ¼ in. (74.5 x 59 cm)
The Transcendental Buddha Akshobhya, meaning “He Who is Unshakeable,” is recognizable by his peaceful appearance, blue skin color, and the pair of elephants at the base of the throne. The painting is part of a set of five representing the Tathagatas along with the principal figures of the Sarvavid Maha Vairochana mandala. The figures accompanying Akshobhya all belong to the mandala’s eastern quadrant, appropriate to the direction with which Akshobhya is associated. This painting is an early and important depiction of this deity, and has been in the Neumann collection for over twenty years, during which time it has been chosen for inclusion in the some of the most important exhibitions and publications on early Tibetan Buddhist painting.
An important and rare painting of Amitabha
Tibet, 12th/13th century
30 ½ x 24 ½ in. (77.5 x 62.2 cm)
Amitabha, the Transcendent Buddha of Immeasurable light, having a peaceful deity appearance, is red in color and seated in meditation with his hands folded in his lap. Although Amitabha is usually depicted wearing the humble patchwork robes of a religious mendicant, here he is shown adorned with jewelry and a crown. The artist has masterfully manipulated the pigments to endow the regal figure with a radiant appearance that simultaneously conveys immeasurable luster and immeasurable life. It has been in a private collection for nearly twenty years and included in important exhibitions and publications.
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