Himalayan Art Resources

Collection: Bonhams London (Inscriptions)

Inscriptions | Bonhams London | Inscriptions Main Page | Inscriptions (Painting)

Inscriptions on paintings have various meanings and uses. Probably the most desired reading of an inscription is an artist name and the date of creation along with the donor's name and geographic location. Those types of inscriptions are rare. It is more common to find the donor's name on the reverse of a painting, or the name of a religious teacher that composes a few auspicious verses of blessing.

There are no standard or specific locations for the placement of inscriptions on paintings. Inscriptions can appear on the front, the back, the brocade mount, and the top and bottom stick added for weight and controlled rolling for storage. There can also be drawn symbols on the back of the painting such as a stupa, calligraphic design, and hand prints.

In this collection of paintings there are twenty-one compositions that have inscriptions of various types and length. Some are extensive while others are a single short sentence or name.

The various locations for inscriptions on paintings:
- Front, painting
- Front, cartouche
- Front, Name or narrative inscriptions
- Front, decorative letters, book titles
- Front, dedication inscriptions
- Front, under-drawing, artist notations
- Front, under-drawing, sanctification & mantras
- Front stick, bottom or top
- Back, painting
- Back stick, bottom or top
- Back, Stupa or design
- Back, direction notations (sets): right, left, East, West, etc.

Jeff Watt 3-2017