Mon Dvaravati bronze sculpture sets new world record

A Mon Dvaravati bronze sculpture from the eighth century BCE has set a new record at a Bonhams auction in New York, selling for an amazing $674,500 (approximately £418,417).
The famous Buddha, which belonged to the Natasha Eilenberg Collection, went for more than three times its estimated price of $250,000 (£155,080) at Bonhams Himalayan, Indian and Southeast Asian Art sale in New York.
“The Eilenberg Buddha is a rare and important example of early Thai sculpture that is virtually unknown outside of institutional collections,” explained Edward Wilkinson, a specialist in Southeast Asian art at Bonhams.
“To have such a fine example, with impeccable provenance from the storied Eilenberg Collection, resulted in tremendous competition from around the globe.”
Dessa Goddard, head of Asian Art for the fine art auction house in North America, commented that this was a thrilling way in which to kick off Asia Week, which sees a number of organisations celebrate art from China, India, Korea, Japan, the Himalayas and Southeast Asia.
What makes this sculpture so distinct among others from the same period is that its style is atypical to the conventions of the time.
For example, the Buddha’s robe diverges from the conventional full-cape that originally came from India during the Gupta Empire.
In this instance, the cape is positioned in such a way that the Buddha’s right shoulder is revealed, which was a style more equal to that found in Sri Lanka.
Eilenberg, who died this year, was respected as an independent scholar of art emanating from Southeast Asia and India. She was particularly renowned for having transcribed the works of Jean Boisselier, who was an influential historian who specialised in Khmer art.
“For Natasha the art object was always given primacy, and she was renowned for her curatorial eye,” Bonhams said. “Her influence went well beyond her publications as she gave opinions on quality and authenticity of Southeast Asian art.”
Cadogan Tate offers high-security handling and shipping for its fine art customers, which is delivered by seasoned art handlers.