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African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian Art
Sotheby's New York
May 7, 2016

Sale 9502


Uli


Lot 8, Ancestor Statute (Uli), New Ireland, 59 7/8 inches high

By Carter B. Horsley

The May 7, 2016 auction at Sotheby's New York of African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian Art is highlighted by a very impressive ancestor statue (Uli) from New Ireland, a Dogon Heddle Pulley from Mali, a Veracruz greenstone yoke, and a Mayan standing lord with removable headdress.


Lot 8 is a very impressive ancestor statue (Uli) from New Ireland that is 59 7/8 inches high. It was once in the collection of the Museum fur Volkerkunder in Berlin, then Arthur Speyer II in Berlin, and Charles Ratton in Paris.

A catalogue entry on the lot by Alexander Grogan provides the following commentary:

"Created before 1800 on the Pacific island of New Ireland, the present statue is a masterpiece which, although documented as early as 1914, has remained unseen for decades....Representing an ideal clan leader, the Uli 'has become an icon among Western collectors of Oceanic art.  The sheer strength of presence of these amazing figures ranks them among the greatest works of Oceanic art in existence.'  Within the corpus of New Ireland Uli figures the present statue ranks at the top, with only two comparable examples in terms of size, age and sculptural quality: one is today in the Louvre in Paris...and the other remains in the Ethnologisches Museum in Berlin....As we encounter the gaze of the Uoli we exerience a profoundly thrilling ancient force from a world long lost."

Although the figure has a projecting beard and prominent phallus, it also has dome-shaped female breasts and Grogan suggests it "simply represents  the adoption of both male and female power by the clan leader.

"Upon the death of a high-ranking leader, the skull of the deceased was buried in a sacred grove, and a tree planted over the burial.  Once the tree had matured, and its roots reached the ancestral relics, absorbing the spiritual power therein, the tree would be felled and an Uli carved from it," Grogan continued.

The essay estimates that there are about 250 known Uli figures of which only 10 percent show signs of having been carved with stone tools, predating the arrival of metal, and that these "may also have been already several hundred years old when collected."

The lot has an estimate of $4,000,000 to $6,000,000.  It sold for $4,730,000 including the buyer's premium as do all results mention in this article.

The sale total was $7,841,875 with 37.8 percent of the 148 offered lots unsold.
 


     Bridge pulley

Lot 73, Dogon heddle pulley from Mali, 9 3/4 inches high

Lot 73 is a very fine Dogon heddle pulley from Mali.  It is 9 3/4 inches high and was once in the collection of John J. Klejman of New York.  It is notable for its four-tiered head and the angularity of its arms and hands.  It had an estimate when it was offered in May 2011 at Sotheby's New York in an auction of The Robert Rubin Collection of African Art and it then sold for $21,250.  At this auction it has an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000.  It sold for $68,750.

Power figure

Lot 52, a Kongo-Yombe Nail Power Figure, Democratic Republic of Congo, 29 inches high

Lot 52 is a good Kongo-Yombe Nail Power Figure from the Democratic Republic of Congo that was collected in situ before 1905 by Robert Visser and is property from the collection of Stuart and Grace Millar of New York. It is 29 inches high.  It has an estimate of $250,000 to $350,000.  It sold for $310,000.

Yoke

Lot 114, Greenstone yoke, Vera Cruz, Late Classic, circa A.D. 550-950, 16 1/2 inches long

Lot 114 is a superb Vera Cruz greenstone yoke, Late Classic, circa A.D. 550-950.  It is 16 1/2 inches long.  It was exhibited from 1998-2001 at the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Arts Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University.  The catalogue entry notes that "this yoke is one of the most masterfully designed ceremonial accoutrements of the ancient Mesoamerican ballgame," adding that "few yokes feature such dramatic imagery of the cosmic forces, deities and animal asssociated with the sacred ballbame ritual."

It has an estimate of $300,000 to $500,000.  It sold for $262,000.

arms

Lot 23, "Mossi Fertility Doll," Burkina Faso, 16 7/8 inches high

Lot 23 is a very fine and abstract Mossi Fertility Doll from Burkina Faso from the collection of Karl Ferdinand Schadler of Munich.  According to the catalogue, Mr. Schadler is "widely known for his many publications" on African art, "among them standard reference books such as "Gods, Spirits, Ancestors" (1962), "Earth and Ore: 2500 Years of African Art in Terracotta and Metal" (1997), ajnd "The Encyclopedia of African Art and Culture" (2009).  It is 16 7/8 inches high.  It has a modest estimate of $6,000 to $9,000.  It sold for $6,000.

boxes

Lot 38, "Ijo Water Spirit Mask," Nigeria, 39 inches high

Lot 38 is an excellent and wonderfully abstract Ijo water spirit mask from Nigeria from the collection of Karl Ferdinand Schadler of Munich.  It is the equal of some sculptures by Pablo Picasso.  It has a very modest estimate of $12,000 to $15,000.  It failed to sell.

Elephant

Lot 39, Ijo Water Spirit Elephant Mask, Nigeria, 37 inches wide

Another Ijo Water Spirit Mask from the collection of Karl Ferdinand Schadler of Munich is Lot 39.  It is a very abstract head of an elephant. It has been widely exhibited and published.  It has an estimate of $30,000 to $50,000.  It sold for $30,000.


Three men

Lot 13, Edo brass pendant of a king amd two dignitaries, Benin Kingdom, Nigeria, 6 1/4 inches high

Lot 13 is an Edo brass pendant of a king and two dignitaries from the Benin Kingdom in Nigeria.  It is 6 1/4 inches high and is from the collection of Karl Ferdinand Schadler. It was formerly with Dr. Luciano Lanfranchi of Celerina and Lance and Roberta Entwistle of London and Paris.  It has an estimate of $15,000 to $25,000.  It sold for $17,500.


Horse pulley

Lot 84, "Equestrian figure, Cote d'Ivoire, 12 inches high


Lot 84 is a very nice wooden equestrian figure from the Cote d'Ivoire that is 12 inches high and from the collection of Leslie Sachs and was once in the collection of Merton D. Simpson of New York.  It has an estimate of $30,000 to $50,000.  It failed to sell.


two spearmen

Lots 10 and 11, Kanak Anthropomorphic roof spires, New Caledonia, 54 inches high each

Lot 10 is a fine Kanak anthropomorphic roof spire from New Caledonia.  It is 54 inches high.  It has a modest estimate of $12,000 to $18,000.  It sold for $35,000.

Lot 11 is a fine Kanak anthropomorphic roof spire from New Caledonia.  It is 54 inches high.  It has a modest estimate of $15,000 to $25,000.  It sold for $40,000.


Red

Lot 9, Sulka helmet mask, New Britain, Bismarck Archipelago, Papua New Guinea, 31 inches high

Lot 9 is a superb and very rare Sulka helmet mask from New Britain, Bismarck Archipelago, Papua New Guinea.  It is 31 inches high.  The catalogue entry notes that "the conical form and protruding forehead of this extraordinarily rare mask conbines elements of the human with the form of the wowoi salt-water snail in 'a manner characteristic of Melanesian thinking on the unity of life forms.'"  Similar works are in the collection of the Menil Collection in Houston and the Foundation Beyeler in Riehen.  It has an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000.  It sold for $125,000.


Quills

Lot 45, Ejagham Janiform Helmet Mask, Akparabong, Cross River Region, Nigeria, 17 inches high not including the quills

Lot 45 is an impressive Ejagham Janiform Helmet Mask from Akparabong, Cross River Region in Nigeria.  Not counting the quills on top, which add dramatically to the work's presence, it is 17 inches high.  It was once with Merton D. Simpson of New York.  It has a modest estimate of $15,000 to $20,000.  It failed to sell.


hacha

Lot 113, Pelican, stone hacha, Mayan, Late Classic, circa 550-950, 11 inches high

Lot 113 is a Mayan Late Classic Pelican stone hacha circa A.D. 550-950.  It is 11 inches and from the collection of Marion Lynton. It has an estimate of $25,000 to $35,000.  It sold for $47,500.

headdress

Lot 125, Standing Lord with Removable Headdress, Mayan, Late Classic, circa A.D. 550-950, 12 inches high

Lot 125 is an impressive and important Mayan standing lord with removable headdress from the Late Classic Period, circa A.D. 550-950.  It is 12 inches high.  It was exhibited at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore from 2002 to 2010.  It is wearing a belt with the mask of the Xoc shark monster with toothy upper gums.It has an estimate of $125,000 to $175,000.  It sold for $125,000.



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See The City Review article on the Fall 2013 article on the African and Pre-Columbian Auction of Allan Stone's Collection at Sotheby's New York

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See The City Review article on the Fall 2008 African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian art auction at Christie's
See The City Review article on the Fall 2008 African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbia art auction at Sotheby's
See The City Review article on Spring 2008 African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian Art auction at Sotheby's
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See The City Review article on the Spring 2004 African & Oceanic Art auction at Sotheby's
See The City Review article on the Fall 2003 Tribal Art auction at Sotheby's
See The City Review article on the Spring 2003 Tribal Art auction at Sotheby's
See The City Review article on the Fall 2002 Tribal Art auction at Sotheby's
See The City Review article on the Spring 2002 Tribal Art auction at Sotheby's
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