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An important group of Gandharan sculpture on offer at Bonhams New York
An illustration to a Mahabharata series, In the manner of Purkhu, Kangra, circa 1815-20. Opaque watercolor and gold on paper. Image: 13 3/8 x 17 1/2 in. (33.9 x 44.3 cm); Folio: 19 7/8 x 15 7/8 in. (50.4 x 40.3 cm). Est. US$50,000-80,000. Photo: Courtesy of Bonhams.

NEW YORK, NY.- Bonhams March 18 auction of Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Art will feature a remarkable selection of fresh to the market narrative panels from the ancient region of Gandhara. Gandhara, the last outpost of Alexander the Great, was a flourishing kingdom where Eastern and Western culture combined to form a distinct artistic tradition. Dating from the 1st-3rd century CE, during the height of Gandharan civilization, the works on offer clearly demonstrate a Greco-Roman influence. The earliest depictions of the Buddha as a man date from this period, and several of the panels up for auction depict scenes from his life, for example a rare entreaty to preach in gray-green schist from the late 1st century (est. $20,000-30,000). Another highlight from the 2nd/3rd century, showing exemplary artistry in its carving, features an ascetic begging at a royal household surrounded by a gallery of female observers (est. $30,000-50,000).

According to Edward Wilkinson, Bonhams Specialist in Southeast Asian, Indian and Himalayan Art, "The market for Gandharan art has seen a dramatic rise in the past two years and the collection on offer will be of interest to both serious connoisseurs and new collectors alike."

Under Wilkinson, Bonhams has quickly established itself as the market leader in the field of Indian painting, and will offer many fine examples on March 18. Building on the success and record sales in 2012, Bonhams will offer a large format and dramatic narrative painting from a Mahabharata series, depicting Ajuna meeting the gods, Kangra, circa 1820 (est. $60,000-80,000). Another important Kangra school page from the Bhatavata Purana showing Hiranyakashipu brandishing his sword at the burning pillar concealing Narasimha is unusual not only because of its exceptionally fine execution, but also in that it shows the moments before the more common scene wherein Narasimha disembowels the demon king (est. $10,000-15,000).

Himalayan art featured in the sale will include a late 15th-early 16th century Mandala of the Chakrasamvara (est. $100,000-150,000). The highly desirable form shows a wheel set beneath a horizontal line of lineage masters, with a band of protective deities and a likely depiction of the commissioning monk along the lower edge. The piece has a large consecration inscription on the reverse. A rare survival from the period, Mandalas of this age and composition are considered key pieces in Tibetan art collections. From Nepal, a 13th century gilt copper alloy figure of Vasudhara is sure to attract attention with its superb modeling and a provenance tracked back to the famed Heeramaneck collection (est. $60,000-80,000).

The sale will include a number of important works of decorative arts from India. Highlights include two impressive silver tea sets from the heralded Oomersee Mawjee workshop, royal silversmith to the Maharaos of Kutch and perhaps the most well-known silversmith of his time within India. The sets are in the form of three birds; one of black partridges circa 1870 (est. US$15,000-20,000) and the other in the form of quails, circa 1920 (est. $10,000-15,000), each demonstrating a skillful mixture of English and Indian aesthetic traditions.

The Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Art sale will take place on March 18 at Bonhams New York. The sale will preview at Bonhams from March 15-17.

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