The Sarnath Buddha
The Gupta period in India (4th to 6th centuries) was one of those eras when all forms of creative and intellectual expression simultaneously reached an unprecedented greatness and sophistication. This golden age's artistic awareness and sensitivity were rarely paralleled again - in India or elsewhere. All the arts, sculpture, painting, philosophy, literature - even astronomy and mathematics - blossomed under royal patronage.
Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh is one of Buddhism's four most important sites and, with Mathura, the most important center at that time. It is here, in the Deer Park of Sarnath, that Buddha gave his first sermon after attaining enlightenment, speaking about the origin of human suffering and offering an unselfish mode of thought and lifestyle to overcome it.
Buddha is depicted as an idealized image, draped in a monk's robe, emphasizing the purity of outline and form. Characteristic features reflect his noble stature - webbed fingers, elongated ear-lobes, hair in tight spiral curls, and a central protuberance indicating his enlightened and expanded mind. His right hand makes the gesture of reassurance, abhaya mudra. Gupta art takes elements from nature and elevates them with great subtlety to a supernatural level, the flawless execution befitting his spiritual perfection. The restrained form radiates inner energy. The canons of ideal beauty are defined in metaphorical terms, all elements are related to natural forms, such as eyebrows akin to the curved leaves of the margosa and eyes shaped like lotus petals. Thus the human body distills the essence of nature.
Property from a Private European Collection
INDIA, UTTAR PRADESH, SARNATH, GUPTA PERIOD, CIRCA 475
A highly important buff sandstone figure of Buddha
India, Uttar Pradesh, Sarnath, Gupta Period, circa 475
Superbly carved with his right hand raised in the fear-abiding gesture and his left hand lowered holding the tip of his robe, wearing a tightly fitted sanghati revealing the slender outlines of his body, the sleeves extending in a gracefull sweep, his face with gently rounded forms and downcast eyes in complete concentration, the arched backplate incised with a bead and scallop border
42½ in. (108 cm.) high
Rene Jaquerod, Zurich
Acquired by the present owner in September 1949.