A rare gray relief sculpture dated from the 3rd to 4th century from the Gandharan region sold for $6.6 million at Christie’s during the auction house’s Asia week sales. It beat its estimate of $600,000 to $800,000 and set a global record for a Gandharan artwork. Christie’s sale of devotional Gandharan works held on September 23 brought in a total of $13.9 million across 22 lots. Each lot was placed with a buyer.
Seated on a lotus flower, the central figure Buddha is flanked by bodhisattvas, Avalokiteshvara and Maitreya. According to the object’s catalogue essay, the figures are located under the boughs of a tree “carved with such depth as to appear almost in the round, the emerging torsos of Brahma and Indra behind contribute to the sense of deep perspective.” The triad represented in the present work is a well known scheme in Gandharan art.
The piece came to auction from a Japanese collection where it resided for three decades. It was previously in the collection of Brussels-based Claude de Marteau in 1973. It has been exhibited widely and studied by scholars. It was featured in the traveling show “Light of Asia: Buddha Sakyamuni in Asian Art” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Art Institute of Chicago and The Brooklyn Museum in 1985. Most recently it was shown at the Shizuoka Museum of Art and throughout Japan from 2007 to 2008.