Standing Buddha Offering Protection

Period: Gupta period (4th–6th century)

Date: late 5th century

Culture: India (Uttar Pradesh, Mathura)

Medium: Red sandstone

Dimensions: H. 33 11/16 in. (85.5 cm); W. 16 3/4 in. (42.5 cm); D. 6 1/2 in. (16.5 cm)

Classification: Sculpture

Credit Line: Purchase, Enid A. Haupt Gift, 1979

Accession Number: 1979.6


Gupta period (ca. 321–500), 5th century
Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, India
Mottled red sandstone; H. 33 11/16 in. (85.5 cm), W. 16 3/4 in. (42.5 cm)
Purchase, Enid A. Haupt Gift, 1979 (1979.6)

The Gupta period (early fourth–early sixth century), often referred to as India's Golden Age, left the indelible imprint of India's cultural genius on the civilization of its neighbors and established an apogee against which later Indian dynasties measured their accomplishments. Cultural achievements reached unsurpassed heights; literature and the arts and sciences flourished under lavish imperial patronage. Reflecting the new rationalism and humanism that permeated all aspects of Gupta culture, art forms and styles developed that provided the prototypes for areas quite distant from the subcontinent. In sculpture the period fostered a new naturalism as well as a harmonious ordering of a new vocabulary of forms. This highly refined system of aesthetics produced softer, gentler curves, fluid transitions from volume to volume, and a sustained and complete harmony of smoothly flowing forms. Disciplined by a strict geometric rationalization, in the fifth century this system evolved into one of humanity's greatest art styles—the classic Gupta style. The Buddha's serene face is composed of full, rounded volumes and smoothly interlocked shapes that form a skillfully balanced totality. Its fulsome appearance, with rounded cheeks, fleshy lips, almond-shaped eyes, and high, gracefully arched eyebrows, is heightened by the potent curve of the upper hem and the garment below the neck.