With the growing popularity of Mahayana Buddhism around the 2nd century in Gandharan art, large detached images were sculptured alongside narrative friezes. The present lot is a superbly executed example of a Bodhisattva characteristic for the high point of that development and among the best of refinement in carving. The sculptors of Gandhara were highly skilled craftsmen who created Buddhist images that often show strong Hellenistic influence. Also the present figure is remarkable for many details of its carving and decoration. This can be seen in the elaborate and complex treatment of the drapery, the complex array of necklaces and the sensitively modeled facial features. Interesting is the small scene on the pedestal which most probably alludes to a scene from the life of Buddha Shakyamuni. After the Buddha attained Enlightenment he fastened for several weeks. A caravan passed the Bodhi-tree beneath which the Buddha sat. Two merchants offered him food while the four guardians of the cardinal points presented him with each a stone begging-bowl. The Buddha took the four bowls and made them into one. The bowl itself became an object of veneration and is a popular scene on Gandharan reliefs.
A closely related figure of comparable fine carving was sold in these Rooms, 10 June 2009, lot 315; other nearly intact examples of large grey schist figures of Maitreya with similar treatment of the drapery and halo were sold in our New York Rooms, 17 September 2003, lot 11 and 16 September 2008, lot 334.