Head of the Buddha

Detail of a pattern
Image 1 of 1

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At A Glance

  • Period

    2nd-3rd century
  • Geography

    Mathura, India
  • Material

    Red sandstone
  • Dimension

    H x W x D: 33.8 × 26.9 × 25.5 cm (13 5/16 × 10 9/16 × 10 1/16 in)
  • Accession Number



Object Details

  • Provenance

    Possibly as early as late 1940s-at least 1965
    Nasli M. (1902-1971) and Alice N. Heeramaneck (1910-1993), New York, NY, method of acquisition unknown [1]
    At least 1965- September 19, 1996
    Jay C. Leff (1925-2000), purchased from Nasli M. and Alice N. Heeramaneck [2]
    September 19, 1996
    Sale, New York, NY, Sotheby’s, “Indian and Southeast Asian Art,” September 19, 1996, lot 137 [3]
    September 19, 1996- March 19, 2014
    Ownership information unknown
    March 19, 2014
    Sale, New York, NY, Christie’s, Sale 2828, “Indian and Southeast Asian Art,” March 19, 2014, lot 1069 [4]
    Francesca Galloway, London, England, purchased at March 19, 2014, Christie’s Sale, New York, NY on behalf of the Freer Gallery of Art [5]
    From 2014
    Freer Gallery of Art, purchase from Francesca Galloway [6]
    [1] In the 2014 Christie’s “Condition Report” for this object (lot 1069), it includes a “Notice” that describes the provenance as “previously in the collection of Nasli and Alice Heeramaneck, possibly as early as the late 1940s, and was then purchased by Jay C. Leff in the 1960s or earlier.” See Christie’s “Condition Report,” Lot 1069, dated March 15, 2014, copy in object file.
    In an email to Hugo Weihe, Pratapaditya Pal confirmed that “lot 1069 originally belonged to [the] Heeramaneck[’]s from whom Leff bought it at least in the [19]60s if not earlier. If I am not mistaken it was in a show that Nasli did in NY in the late [19]40s.” See email from Pratapaditya Pal to Hugo Weihe with the subject “Re: Invitation,” dated March 12, 2014, copy in object file. Further research is required to determine if it was indeed included in an exhibition by the Heeramaneck’s in the 1940s.
    It can be determined that this object was in the collection of Jay C. Leff by October 1965 since it was included in the exhibition catalogue “Near Eastern and Far Eastern art from the collection of Jay C. Leff.” The exhibition was organized by the American Federation of Arts and it ran from October 1965 to October 1967. The American Federation of Arts is an organization in New York, NY that organizes and tours art exhibitions. Further research is required to identify the exhibition venues. See Haskins, John F., “Near Eastern and Far Eastern Art from the Collection of Jay C. Leff,” (New York: American Federation of Arts, distributed by October House, New York, 1965), pp. 22-23, no. 44, illustrated. Object is described as “Head of Buddha, Kushan.”
    Nasli M. (1902-1971) and Alice N. Heeramaneck (1910-1993), New York, NY, were dealers and collectors of Pre-Columbian and Asian art based in New York, NY. Nasli Heeramaneck began his career as a dealer in Paris during the 1920s and relocated to New York, NY in 1927. In 1939, Nasli married Alice Arvine, an American portrait painter from New Haven, CT. Nasli founded Heeramaneck Galleries in New York, NY by 1929. He began to retire in 1964 and liquidated some of the gallery’s stock at auction at Parke-Barnet, New York in 1964 and 1965. Many objects from the Heeramaneck collection were either purchased or donated to American museums. Items from their collection may be found in The British Museum; the Cleveland Museum of Art; Los Angeles County Museum; The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; National Museum of New Delhi; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts; and Yale University.
    [2] See note 1.
    Jay C. Leff of Uniontown, Pennsylvania, was the first president and chief executive officer of the bank that his family founded in 1947, and he held that position until his retirement in 1986. He also served as the chairman of the Pennsylvania State Council on the Arts. Leff began collecting chess sets and Asian decorative arts in the late 1940s and he was also an avid collector of the arts of many cultures, including arts from across Asia (Central Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Nepal, Tibet, China, and Japan), African, ancient Latin America, North America, Oceania, and ancient Egypt. According to his obituary in the Pittsburgh “Post-Gazette,” his collection contained more than 4,000 pieces at its peak. Leff acquired objects for his collection through American dealers and at auction. Pieces from his collection have been exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum, Carnegie Museum of Art, and the Frick Art Museum. He also exhibited objects in the lobby of the Fayette Bank and Trust Co. building in Uniontown. Items from his collection may be found in the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Yale University Art Museum. See Jay C. Leff’s Obituary, Pittsburgh “Post-Gazette,” January 25, 2000.
    [3] See Sotheby’s “Indian and Southeast Asian Art” [auction catalogue] (New York: Sotheby’s, September 19, 1996), lot 137, ill. Described as “A Kushan Mottled Red Sandstone Head of Buddha” and the “Property from the Collection of Jay C. Leff.”
    [4] Object is described as “A red sandstone head of Buddha.”
    [5] See authorization/agreement letter from Julian Raby, Director, to Francesca Galloway, undated (signed by Galloway on March 18, 2014), copy in object file. See also invoice number 2574 from Francesca Galloway to Debra Diamond, dated March 20, 2014, copy in object file.
    [6] See Freer Gallery of Art “Acquisition Consideration Purchase” form, approved on March 18, 2014, copy in object file.
    Research updated April 7, 2023
  • Collection

    Freer Gallery of Art Collection
  • Exhibition History

    Encountering the Buddha: Art and Practice Across Asia (October 14, 2017 to February 6, 2022)
  • Previous custodian or owner

    Nasli M. (1902-1971) and Alice N. Heeramaneck (1910-1993)
    Jay C. Leff (1925-2000)
    Francesca Galloway
  • Origin

    Mathura, India
  • Credit Line

    Purchase — funds provided by Rajinder K. Keith and Narinder K. Keith
  • Type

  • Restrictions and Rights

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