Friday, 2 March 2012

A gray schist relief with The Great Departure

Lot Description A gray schist relief with The Great Departure Gandhara, 2nd/3rd century

Finely carved with Siddhartha in princely robes on the back of Kanthaka emerging frontally at bottom flanked by Chandaka and other figures, with a palace scene above with Siddhartha seated at center surrounded by attendants, including a female with her back turned, a male drummer, and a man in hooded robes, with registers of devotees at left and right 18¼ in. (46.3 cm.) high

Provenance Doris Wiener Gallery, New York, mid 1980s or earlier

Exhibited Frank Caro, (C.T. Loo), New York, 1989 Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama, 1994 International Fine Art and Antique Dealers Fair, New York, 1995

The scene marks the departure of Siddhartha from Kapilavastu and the renunciation of his princely life, embarking on his journey towards enlightenment. This departure scene is remarkable for its size and bold carving with a frontal depiction of Siddhartha on horseback. A figure supports the horse's hooves so that no noise can be heard by the guards in the early hours of the morning when Siddhartha left the city of Kapilavastu on the back of his horse Kanthaka. He is flanked on either side by palace guards and night watchmen demonstrating through gesture their confusion at his leave-taking. Above is a vignette of Siddhartha enjoying palace life, seated on a wide throne with musicians and attendants offering refreshment, including a partially nude woman shown from the rear at right. In the niches to either side are figures extending the central scenes, including cherubic figures at top, devotees with folded hands in the middle, and further well-wishers at left and right.

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