is a large auction with more than 270 lots, mostly African many
of which are of quite esoteric interest and intriguing quality,
including some fine Baule and Dogon pieces. The auction also has
some important works of Oceanic art and few good examples of Northwest
One of the best works is Lot 123, shown at the top of this article,
a rare and important Kaka paternity figure, 22 1/2 inches high.
This work heavily encrusted sculpture has great stylization with
huge, wedge-shaped feet, and angular face on a globular head,
a triangular beard, and a child handing onto its back. It has
an estimate of $60,000 to $80,000. It sold for $69,750 including
the buyer's premium as do all the prices mentioned in this article.
Of similar but cruder power is Lot 37, a rare Dogon Tellem pair,
18 1/2 inches high, of two separate figures with raised arms and
"exceptionally fine encrusted grayish brown millet patina.
The lot has an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000 and sold for $46,750.
There are several other excellent Dogon works including Lot 23,
a fine and rare hunter's mask, 17 inches high with cut-out triangular
eyes, bared teeth, lug ears and "an exceptionally fine encrusted
patina of sacrificial material in a gray-brown-black surface.
It topped by a triangular form, or handle. It has a modest estimate
of $35,000 to $45,000. It sold for $41,000.
A more traditional Dogan work is Lot 18, a fine female torso,
19 1/2 inches high, that has an estimate of $25,000 to $35,000
and was once in the collection of Jay C. Leff. It sold for $23,750.
Lot 13 is a superb Dogon mask in the abstracted form of a monkey's
face that is 13 inches high and has heavy encrustration and an
estimate of $40,000 to $50,000. It failed to sell.
Lot 124 is another wood sculpture of considerable stylization.
It is a 22-inch-inch high rare Cameroon/Northern Gabon, Fang female
reliquary guardian figure that has a white or kaolin-surface with
ringed feet, pronounced hips, high conical breats and a lovely
heart-shaped face. It has an estimate of $50,000 to $70,000. It
sold for $52,500.
Lot 9 is
a very strong Bamana female figure 19 1/8 inches high that is
notable for its lovely linear scarifications and the superbly
abstracted head. It has a conservative estimate of $12,000 to
$18,000 and was formerly in the collections of Nelson A. Rockefeller
and the Museum of Primitive Art in New York. It sold for $15,600.
is lot 77, a fine Benin bronze plaque, circa 16th/17th Century
of a chief holding an eban sword with both hands, 16 1/2 inches
high. The work is finely detailed and has a fine rich bronze patina.
It has a modest estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold for
Lot 70 is a very elegant bronze Diula bronze, described in the
catalogue as "fine and rare." The 10 1/4-inch-high mask
has an estimate of $50,000 to $70,000. Such masks were not published
until the mid-1960s and about 15 are known and the catalogue maintained
that it probably dates to the late 18th Century or early 19th
Century. It failed to sell.
shown above, is a fine and rare Baule female figure, 10 inches
high, covered in gold leaf and decorated with elaborate cross-hatch
and zigzag motifs. It has a modest estimate of $25,000 to $35,000
and is very impressive. It failed to sell.
A related work is Lot 50, a Baule fly-whisk handle, that is 11
inches high and covered mostly in gold lead. It has a modest estimate
of $3,000 to $5,000. It sold for $2,400.
Lot 43 is a very elegant pair of Baule kaolin-encrusted wooden
figures about 11 1/2 inches high from the estate of Dorothy Brill
Robbins that has a modest estimate of $2,500 to $2,500. It failed
Lot 86, shown above, is a good
Dan mask that
is 9 1/2 inches high and has an estimate of $3,000 to $5,000.
It failed to sell.
shown above, is a very fine Eastern Nigerian, Ijaw, water spirit
mask thta is 15 1/2 inches high. It has an estimate of $2,5000
to $3,500. It sold for $7,200.
Lot 108, shown above is a
superb Dan mask that
is 9 3/4 inches high with a braided hair headdress. It has an
estimate of $20,000 to $30,000. It sold for $29,500.
is a superb Baule male figure that is 18 1/4 inches high and has
an estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. It
sold for $38,125.
shown above, is an impressive New Caledonian water demon mask
that is 78 1/2 inches high and has a beard of twisted human hair
and a garment compresied of feathers. The lot was an estimate
of $18,000 to $22,000 and sold
One of the
auction's highlights is Lot 228, shown above, a Solomon Islands,
New Georgia, canoe prow ornament that is 7 inches high and was
once in the collection of Tristan Tzara. The work has inlaid
ornamentation. It has an estimate of $25,000 to $35,000 and sold
colorful work in the auction is Lot 183, shown above, a rare Vanatu
Grade Society Mask, Makekula Island. This 27-inch high work was
deaccessioned in 1996 by the Art Institute of Chicago. Three male
figures missing the lower supporting head are known. The lot has
an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. It
sold for $58,250.
Vanatu work is Lot 176, a 43-inch-high helmet mask, shown above.
This wonderfulpiece has an estimate of $8,000 to $12,000. It sold
bird-like masks of the Sepik River area are very dramatic and
popular with collectors but most are missing their strong coloring.
Lot 193 is an excellent Coastal Sepik River marks whose great
coloring is intact. The 19 1/2 inch high mask has an estimate
of $15,000 to $25,000. It
sold for only $8,400.
One of the
most abstract works in this auction is Lot 257, shown above, a
rare Mitiaro staff god, 8 1/4 inches high. This work was collected
by the Reverends John Williams and Robert Bourne of the London
Missionary Society in 1823. According to the catalogue, a fiber
tail would have been affixed to he base and fibers and feathers
were lashed to the top portion. This lot is one of only 10 known
in "this comparatively good state of preservation,"
the catalogue entry stated. The lot has an estimate of $20,000
to $25,000. It sold for
illustration of the catalogue is Lot 265, shown above, a rare
and magnificent Hawaiian Islands ceremonial fan that is 22 1/2
inches wide. It has an estimate of $15,000 to $25,000 and it sold
One of the
most striking works in the auction is Lot 273, shown above, a
fine and rare Easter Island male figure thatis 17 3/4 inches high.
"As little is known about how these figures were used, it
is impoosibleto state why the head was carved turned. Like all
classic males fiugres, the treatment of the body is highly abstract,
but one should not the on the ifures with the head turned to the
side, a degree of naturalism is presentin the treatment of the
collar bones as assympetrical," the catalogue noted. The
haunting sculpture of this emaciated figure has an estimate of
$125,000 to $175,000 and sold
for $192,750, the auction's highest
Lot 16, a Northwest Coast
ceremonial wood rattle,
shown above, is a very impressive 15 1/4-inch long work hhas an
estimate of $25,000 to $35,000 and sold
Lot 159 is a very impressive
wood mask trimmed with framentary fur ruff and with remains of
black and red pigment. The 8-inch high mask has an estimate of
$20,000 to $30,000 and sold
One of the
more striking works inthe auction is Lot 147, shown above, a superb
Indian Santal, anthropomorphic lute, known as a dhodro banam,
that is 27 1/2 inches high and has an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000
and sold for $18,000.
This dhodro banam is carved in the form
of a female torso with the lower hollowed square section covered
with a leather flap beneath the torso with two standing figures
joined ogher and inset in the central cavity.