Eilenberg Collection

By Gabriel McKee

The ISAW library is pleased to have received the generous donation of a library of books on Indian, Himalayan, and Southeast Asian art from the estate of Natasha Eilenberg.

Eilenberg was an independent scholar specializing in Khmer art. After a successful career as a travel agent, Eilenberg traveled to Paris and began attending lectures on Southeast Asian art at the Sorbonne. In particular, she became a student of Jean Boisselier, with whom her name became closely associated. Eilenberg translated two of Boisselier’s works into English, including his Trends in Khmer Art (Tendances de l’Art Khmèr) (1989) and the essay collection Studies on the Art of Ancient Cambodia (2008). She also edited a Festschrift for Boisselier, Living a Life in Accord with Dhamma (1997). This volume contains over 40 contributions from noted scholars in Southeast Asian antiquities, including Eilenberg herself.

In addition to her scholarly work, Eilenberg became a renowned art collector, assembling an impressive collection of Indian and Southeast Asian sculptures and ritual artifacts. One highlight of the collection, an 8th century Mon Dvaravati Buddha from Thailand, is considered the finest sculpture of its kind outside of museum collections. She donated items to several museums, including the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Museum of Art and Archaeology at the University of Missouri, and the Brooklyn Museum. 22 items from her collection were sold at auction by Bonham’s in 2012.

Eilenberg’s library, containing over 200 volumes, will strengthen ISAW’s holdings in Indian and Southeast Asian art. The collection includes richly-illustrated works on Khmer sculpture from the earliest examples through the temples of Angor Wat, as well as related works on Indian and Chinese antiquities and the history of Buddhism.

The books arrived in mid-October, and we began processing them immediately. We will be cataloging them over the course of the coming weeks and hope to have the entire collection processed in early 2015. Search in Bobcat for "Eilenberg Collection" to see the items we've added so far.