New York – On March 20, Christie’s is proud to present The Doris Wiener Collection, a sale of nearly 400 lots of sculpture and paintings from Gandhara, the Himalayas, India and Southeast Asia, assembled by the renowned gallerist and collector. As a leading figure in the field, she placed important works in top collections and institutions throughout the world. This outstanding group of exceptionally rare and beautiful works is a testament to Ms. Wiener’s discerning eye. The sale will present connoisseurs with the opportunity to acquire masterpieces handpicked by one of the most distinguished tastemakers in this collecting category.
Over the five decades since her first show in 1961, Doris Wiener became a well-known and passionate collector and dealer of Indian and Southeast Asian art in New York. She visited the region early on and fell in love with its arts, developing her eye and expertise well before others became aware of their existence. From her gallery across from the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Fifth Avenue, she introduced both students and connoisseurs to the vast wealth of paintings, sculpture and textiles from this part of the world.
Leading the sale is an important bronze group of Somaskanda from South India of the Chola period, circa 11th century (estimate: $800,000–1,200,000). Somaskanda means “Shiva with Uma and Skanda,” Skanda being their son who in the present example, stands between them; often he is lost from surviving sculptures. As part of the religious practice of Brahmanical South India, these bronzes would be carried out of the temple along processional routes so that worshippers who were not allowed access to the inner sanctum might view and be viewed by the deities. The present example is particularly well executed with elegantly modeled features and in an excellent state of preservation. It was included in Vidhya Dehejia’s important exhibition, The Sensuous and the Sacred: Chola Bronzes from South India, which traveled from the Freer and Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian Institution to the Dallas Museum of Art and the Cleveland Museum of Art from 2002-03.
Another highlight is a 13th century Nepalese gilt-bronze figure of Padmapani, the “holder of the lotus,” one of the many guises of Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of compassion, and one of the principle deities in Mahayana Buddhism. Although he has attained enlightenment like the Buddha, the bodhisattva forgoes his escape from the suffering of rebirth to act as a guide to all living beings until they themselves have achieved nirvana. The present example (estimate: $250,000–350,000) is of extraordinarily fine execution.
The Collection includes a remarkable example of a Tibetan thangka of four mandalas of Hevajra, painted in mineral pigments and gold on textile in the 16th century, which has been preserved in excellent condition (estimate: $150,000-250,000). Comprised of concentric circles and squares occupied by the main deity at center, mandalas offer a rich visual iconography that rewards multiple viewings. In the present painting, seated at center next to the red female deity Jnana Dakini, is Abhayakaragupta, author of the Vajravali text upon which this painting is based. They are surrounded by the four principal mandalas of the Hevajra Tantra.