Historic Nepali mandala art sets world record at Sotheby’s

June 2nd, 2011 - 6:14 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 2 (IANS) South Asian art scaled a new high in the European auction market with a 14th century Nepalese painting, “Vasudhara Mandala” selling for 825,250 pounds at Sotheby’s in London - a world record for a work of its class, a statement by Sotheby’s said Thursday.

The painting, by Jasaraja Jirila, went under the hammer Wednesday. It was from the Stuart Cary Welch Collection of Islamic and Indian art - a repository of Indian and Islamic art collected by Welch, an American scholar and Harvard teacher.

Vasudhara Mandala was painted by Jasaraja Jirila in 1365, and is the earliest recorded Nepalese “paubha” (traditional painting) that contains a date within its dedicatory inscription.

A section, Arts of India, from the collection shot the pre-sale estimate of 1.2-1.8 million pounds by nearly seven times to realise 8,403,815 pounds ($13,894,868). A historic religious painting “Sri Bhairavi Devi With Shiva”, painted between 1630-1635 AD, in the Arts of India lot topped the Indian sale at 1,385,250 pounds ($2,290,372). It was purchased by an institution.

Commenting on the auction trends, Edward Gibbs, senior director and head of Sotheby’s Middle East and Indian departments, said: “The premium value of quality, rarity, freshness to the market and the provenance of a great name exercised their appeal for collectors. What was most noticeable yesterday (Wednesday) was the extraordinary depth and breadth of bidding across all price levels from private and institutional buyers.”

The total sale notched 8.4 million pounds, bringing the combined total for the Welch Collection to 29.3 million pounds.

The auction Wednesday followed a successful sale of the first part of the Welch Collection of the “Art of the Islamic World” which had also created a world record for a leaf from the ancient Persian tome, Shahnameh of Shah Tahmasp of Persia. The leaf had sold for 7.4 million pounds.

After Welch died in 2008, his huge collection of South Asian art which he donated to his alma mater Harvard University was put on sale in phases.

A curator of Islamic and later Indian art at the Harvard Art Museum, Welch was also a special consultant for the department of Islamic art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He collected Indian art since he was a boy.

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