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Thangkas Very Much! Tibetan thangkas revealing a hidden culture surfaces at auction

The Richard R. & Magdalena Ernst Collection of Himalayan Art – one of the most comprehensive collections of Tibetan thangkas – was recently unveiled at Sotheby’s New York, much to the delight of the art world.

Thangkas, or traditional Tibetan paintings on silk or cotton, are intricate pieces of ancient art, awe-inspiring in their vivid colours and detailed miniature iconography. Painted mostly by monks and their disciples, they have more than just aesthetic value and are an integral meditative tool in Tibetan Buddhist religion.

This particular collection, acquired by Nobel Laureate Richard Ernst and his wife over five decades, features 88 paintings spanning the 12th to the 19th century. Speaking about what drew them to this niche art practiced by spiritual gurus tucked away on mountains with harsh climes, Richard says, “From the moment we laid eyes on the thangka of four Arhats in Kathmandu, we knew that Tibetan art would form the heart of our collection. The region’s rich culture, spontaneous nature of creativity, and philosophical strength drew us in, and has kept us firmly engaged over the last fifty years.”

Of varying sizes and depicting different periods, this widely-published collection includes everything from hypnotic mandalas and rare portraits of early Buddhist masters to prevalent hierarchies in monasteries. According to Sotheby’s experts, quite a few of them are deeply influenced by Lhasa high-court influences, and provide a rare window to a hidden – and almost lost – culture.

2018-04-06T16:04:57+00:00 April 07, 2018|Art, Collectibles, Gallery|