By Carter B. Horsley
Once again Sotheby's has put
Art auction into the same catalogue as its African and Oceanic
Art auction. See the separate article on the Pre-Columbian Art
auction that occurs at 2PM, May 12, 2005.
This morning auction May 12,
2005 at Sotheby's
of African and Oceanic Art is highlighted by a spectacular Kongo/Vili
zoomorphic janiform power figure, and a fabulously abstract Dogon
The power figure, Lot 102, is
36 1/4 inches
long and has a modest estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. It sold
for $114,000 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned
in this article.
The figure is extensively
imbedded with nails
and blades and has a hollowed square at the center of its back
for the insertion of magi materials, no longer extant. The piece
was collected by Victor Ruffy, a Swiss forestry engineer working
in the Congo circa 1923. Each nail, the catalogue entry for this
lot noted, served as a contract to end disputes or as a cure for
Lot 23 is a "fine" Dogon Tellum
with exceptionally fine millet-encrusted patina. It is 17 1/4
inches high. The piece was once with J. J. Klejman in new York.
It has a modest estimate of $15,000 to $25,000. It sold for
Lot 31 is a "superb" Dogon,
male figure that is 19 1/2 inches high. it has a dramatic,
head, the face has sharp features and wears a korte necklace,
It has an estimate of $50,000 to $70,000. It sold for $60,000.
Lot 75 is a very fine Ifo
headdress with telescoped
eyes and a box-like headdress decorated in a checkerboard pattern.
The piece was collected by Commander John Valentine, Royal Navy,
who performed field work in Ghana, circa 1940s. The catalogue
notes that the checkerboard motif "symbolizes Ikaki,
the tortoise, who is revered as an oru, or village
and a type of trickster figure in which people see their own
human foibles." "Shaped like a canoe," the entry
continued, "the mask has multi-valent meaning to the Ijo
people who inhabit the Niger delta region and rely on the rivers
for their well-being." The lot has an estimate of $12,000
to $18,000. It sold for $19,200.
Lot 77 is a fine Cameroon,
Bamileke stool supported
by a highly stylized leopard decorated with incised circles. The
catalogue observed that "Across the Grasslands area, caryatid
stools appear as royal supports," adding that "The animal
figure support was symbolic of royalty, chosen from a pantheon
of animals imbued with power. The lot has an estimate of $15,000
to $25,000. It failed to sell.
Lot 81 is a rare Pende stool
that is 10 1/2
inches high and has three nicely carved support figures with fine
patina.It has an estimate of $10,000 to $15,000. It sold for
Lot 58 is a fine and rare
Senufo male torso
that is 35 inches tall. The figure wears a tall single-crested
coiffure with a pendant knob in the back and the piece has deep
brown patina with some areas of kaolin. It was acquired by Vera
G. List circa 1950s. It has an estimate of $25,000 to $35,000.
It failed to sell.
Lot 41 is a very nice Bamana
that is 38 1/4 inches high. It has an estimate of $6,000 to $9,000.
It sold for $10,800.
Lot 6 is a very impressive
Maori lidded bowl
by Anaha Te Rahui (1822-1912), Ngati Tarawhai. The bowl was once
in the collection of Jay C. Leff of Uniontown, Pennsylvania.
The bowl is 23 1/2 inches long. The lot has a very conservative
estimate of $5,000 to $7,000. It sold for 45,000.
is a "rare and
important New Caledonian mask that is 17 inches high that was
acquired from J. J. Klejman in New York. The catalogue entry for
this lot notes that Professor Jean Guiart, the director of the
Musée de l'Homme in Paris, has examined this mask and compares
it "most closely with another in the Linden Museum, Stuggart,"
adding that "Both masks date to the 18th Century." The
entry also noted that "The classical coiffure of New Caledonian
masks was made from the hair of the mourners" and that "the
last recorded use of the masks was in the 19th Century."
The lot has an estimate of $150,000 to $200,000. It failed
The auction has several fine
pendants, which are among the most desirable objects of Oceanic
Art for their fine craftsmanship, high stylization and fine materials.
Lot 3, for example, is a fine hei tiki, as the
are known, that is 3 3/4 inches high. Of reptilian/avian form,
it has an estimate of $8,000 to $12,000. It sold for $3,300
while other examples in this auction sold for as much as $20,400.
Fernwood has a marvelous
texture and Lot 20 is a fine and large Vanuatu fernwood figure
that is 72 inches high. It has an estimate of $25,000 to $35,000.
It sold for $24,000.
Lot 15 is a fine and rare
necklace, 16 1/8 inches long that was acquired by Captain George
Murray (1741-1797). The red and yellow feather necklace has an
estimate of $10,000 to $15,000. It sold for $72,000.