Exceptional results for the Claude de Marteau Collection at Bonhams Paris

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Exceptional results for the Claude de Marteau Collection at Bonhams Paris
A schist relief Panel of Buddha entering Rajagriha Ancient Region of Gandhara, circa 2nd Century. Sold €78,495. Photo: Bonhams.

PARIS.- Treasures from the renowned Claude de Marteau Collection sold for a total of €3.5 million at Bonhams Paris yesterday (14 June) with 96.88% of lots sold and 100% of lots by value. The highlight of the sale was an imposing and enigmatic grey schist Buddha sculpted in the ancient region of Gandhara during the 3rd century, which sold for €567,375.

As it is entitled to do under French law, the world-famous Musée Guimet stepped in to pre-empt the final bid on an Indian stele of Ganesha.

Edward Wilkinson, Bonhams Global Head of Indian, Himalayan and Southeast Asian Art, said: “Buyers from all over the world, online, on the phone, and in the room recognised the rarity and exceptional quality of each piece in this collection. The very positive results of this sale are a tribute to the late Claude de Marteau’s great eye and taste. We are delighted to see his name enter the Guimet Museum's collections with the pre-emption of a 10th century Ganesha stele.”

Other Gandhara region highlights included:

• A 3rd/4th century schist Buddha head, estimated at €150,000-200,000, which sold for €277,575.

• A schist figure of Atlas, 3rd/4th century sold for €111,255.

• An elegant schist panel of Buddha entering Rajagriha fetched €78,495, five times its low estimate.

Sculpture from Tibet and India also appealed to collectors. A Gilt copper alloy triad of Padmasambhava and his consorts, Mandarava and Yeshe Tsogyal, Tibet, ca. 17th century, considered as one of the finest known examples of this rare subject, sold for €252,375 against an estimate of €100,000-150,000.

A 12th century brass figure of Kapaladhara Hevarja embracing his consort Nairatma from Northeast India sold for €327,975 (estimate €120,000-160,000). The work dates from the Pala period, considered one of the golden eras of Bengali history and art, noted for the skill and flair of its sculptors.

A copper alloy sculpture of Maitreya from the Swat Valley, 7th century sold for €151,575. The verdant Swat Valley in present-day Pakistan lay within the cultural boundaries of the ancient Gandhara Buddhist civilisation. The intriguing cosmopolitan aesthetic of Swat bronzes is reflected in this Maitreya.

This sale will be followed by three further auctions, which will take place in Paris and Hong Kong in 2022 and 2023.

As a young man, Claude de Marteau stumbled upon the art that was to be his lifelong passion while he was on an extended trip through Afghanistan, over the Hindu Kush to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. Entirely self-taught, he became a respected dealer and an eminent authority on Tibetan, Nepalese, Indian and Southeast Asia art.

Pieces sourced by Claude de Marteau can be found in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York – including a Buddha image of the Gupta period in India from Sarnath – Cleveland Museum of Art and the Asian Art Museum.

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