Bronze figures beat auction estimates at Bonhams New York

Exceptional gilt bronze figurative sculpture dominated Bonhams diverse offerings in the auction of Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Art on September 18, claiming seven of the auction’s top ten spots. The majority of these highlights came directly from private collections and surpassed their pre-auction estimates substantially. Splendid examples from China, Nepal and Tibet all proved popular, ranging in date from 14th-18th century. Bidders in more than two dozen countries participated, with the Middle East, China, South East Asia, the UK and the US all well represented.

Gilt copper alloy figure of Marichi Qing dynasty, 18th century

Gilt copper alloy figure of Marichi Qing dynasty, 18th century

The auction’s top lot was a seated bronze figure of Marichi, a goddess whose name means “ray of light,” cast in 18th century Qing Dynasty China. Coming from a private Canadian collection, the transcendent sculpture reached a stunning $254,500 after a lengthy bidding war, more than eight times its pre-auction estimate. Another Chinese example from a private American collection, a delicate Qianlong period standing bronze Buddha, achieved more than 10 times its pre-auction estimate, realizing $158,500.

Other sculpture that performed well included a powerful figure of Yama Dhamaraja and Chamundi, or the Lord of Death with his consort, astride a superbly modeled angry buffalo from the 17th/18th century. The frightening trio, who are adorned with skulls and snakes, are together crushing a prostrate human on a lotus platform. Coming from a private Northern California collection, the sculpture sold for a remarkable 20 times its pre-auction estimate, bringing $242,500.

Serving as a serene counter balance was a jewel-like and meditative Tibetan bronze of Lobzang Gyatso, or Great Fifth Dalai Lama. This naturalistic 18th century example had been in a private New England collection for over 30 years, and achieved $206,500, nearly 10 times its pre-auction estimate.

“The clear success of the beautiful bronzes on offer is a testament to the importance of quality and provenance in the marketplace. We were thrilled to see the active international participation in all categories in the sale.” said Edward Wilkinson, Bonhams Consulting Specialist in Indian, Himalayan and South East Asian Art.

Additional highlights in the auction included a circa 3rd century schist figure of Maitreya from the ancient region of Gandhara that sold for $80,500, and a late 18th century illustration to the Bhagavata Purana attributable to Fattu that realized $74,500. A Philippine ivory carving of the Virgin and Child dating from the early 17th century sold for more than six times its pre-auction estimate, fetching a remarkable $53,750.

Complete results are available at