London – Colin Tennant, 3rd Baron Glenconner, is probably most associated with the Caribbean island of Mustique, which he acquired in 1958, and his gift of a villa there to Princess Margaret. Lord Glenconner was, however, also a noted art collector and connoisseur: he was an early patron of Lucian Freud. Although his artistic tastes were eclectic, he had a particular fondness for Indian art. (He even commissioned the famous set designer Oliver Messel to create an ‘Indian palace’ on Mustique as a setting for his treasures). In the late 1980s he bought a magnificent and rare monumental marble and rock crystal lingam shrine which leads Bonhams’ India in Art sale on 7 June at New Bond Street, London. It has an estimate of £120,000 – 160,000.
Made in the late 19th or early 20th century, the shrine is an abstract representation of the God Shiva, the only deity in Shaivism who can be worshipped in an embodied and disembodied form. The lingam signifies that Shiva, as the supreme Brahman of Shaivism, is ultimately without form or gender.
Matthew Thomas, Bonhams Head of Sale, commented: “This impressive shrine comprises 11 large rock crystal lingas set in a monumental red marble yonipatha base. Each lingam is encircled by a serpent carving and there is a further carving of a serpent on the underside of the base at the front. The shrine was exhibited at the Puja exhibition in the Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington between 1996 and 2000 to great acclaim. Since it also has such a fascinating provenance, from the collection of Lord Glennconner, we are sure it will excite collectors.”
Other highlights of the sale include:
- A rare Mughal enamelled gilt-silver tray North India, possibly Hyderabad, 18th Century. Estimate: £80,000 – 120,000.
- A rare Indo-Portuguese mother of pearl-inlaid wood cabinet Gujarat, 17th Century. Estimate: £60,000 – 80,000.
- A large painting depicting the Battle of Condore in December 1758, during the Third Carnatic War, with East India Company troops under Colonel Forde engaged against French troops and their allies South India, 19th Century. Estimate: £50,000 – 70,000.
- A diamond-set enamelled gold and pearl necklace Benares, late 18th Century. Estimate: £30,000 – 40,000.