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Christophe Hioco

Lady and hand
India
Gupta period, 4th-6th century
terracotta
H: 46 cm

This fragment of sculpture depicts a woman’s bust turned toward a hand. The hand (which must have belonged to a larger figure) is touching her right cheek, suggesting a carnal relationship between the woman and the missing figure, perhaps a divinity. The partial oval cloud decorated with lotus petals would tend to confirm this hypothesis.

Its divine nature is also underlined by the rich garments and by the sophisticated styling of the hair, from which a lotus flower springs. The expression on the woman’s face and the gesture of the right hand (vitarka mudra) reflect a spontaneous moment rich in emotion. Gupta art is known for its subtleness and refined expressiveness. The sculptors of this period knew how to achieve an aesthetic union between the carnal and the spiritual, as witnessed by this feminine bust, lifelike in shape yet not exuberant, measured yet shapely, and the highly characteristic representation of a face, wide-eyed with pronounced features, that expresses a sentiment.

Our imagination is stirred by such a highly "eloquent" fragment which exudes vitality and emotion.

Provenance:
Collection Bunzo Nakanishi, Japan, acquired in the 80’s.

Art Loss Register Certificate, Reference S00017511.

Report on Thermoluminescense Authenticity Test, c/o Department of Physics & Materials Science, City University of Hong Kong, Ref. 02447 is consistent with the above claimed period.

To see a similar piece, refer to A. Goswami, Indian Terra-cotta Art, New York, 1959, pl. 5. or
The Golden Age of Classical India, The Gupta Empire, catalogue, Grand Palais, Paris, 2007, p. 84 and p. 233.

all text, images Christophe Hioco

 

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