Gandharan bronze sculpture is rare, however the present example represents a type of standing Buddha prevalent in metal sculpture, with examples in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, cf. U. von Schroeder, Indo-Tibetan Bronzes, pl. 4A-I. They are often associated with a characteristic backplate, a combined halo and an oval-shaped nimbus lined by spikes (see following lot). Relating this feature to painted halos around stucco images, early scholarship dated this whole group to as late as the 7th/8th century, cf. D. Barrett, "Gandhara Bronzes", The Burlington Magazine, 1960, vol. 102, pp. 361-65, while S. Czuma more recently argues for a considerably earlier dating, see Kushan Sculpture: Images from Early India, 1985, cat. no. 117.
The incised symbol on the chest represents the Indian shrivatsa symbol, a stylized orb radiating light. It first appears as a chest mark on Jain Tirthankaras of the Kushan period (compare lot 59) and later on images of Vishnu and other Hindu gods, not generally on images of Buddha. Referring to three Gandharan bronze figures of Shakyamuni bearing a similar feature, one in the Norton Simon Collection (von Schroeder, pl. 3B) and two others in private collections reputedly having been uncovered in eastern Afghanistan, N. Kreitman supports the notion of an Afghan sub-group of Gandharan bronzes, rather than the more common regional attribution to Pakistan, cf. The Crossroads of Asia, Transformation in Image and Symbol, Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge, 1992, cat. no. 209, pp. 215-17. This is more recently confirmed by a technological examination, see C. Reedy, Himalayan Bronzes, Technology, Style, and Choices, 1997, cat. no. A7, p. 135f.
J. Boardman relates the strong classical influence prevailing in such Buddha images to the proximity in concept between Greek gods and Buddha, the 'man-god', "...no less for the narrative cycle of his story and appearance of his standing figure than for his humanity. As a result Buddhist art carried the subtle stamp of the classical for centuries and over thousands of miles." in: The Diffusion of Classical Art in Antiquity, 1993, p. 144.