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World Art

In the top ten of bids, the ethnic arts by no means drag their heels. These treasures of africa, america and oceania sold at auction have fascinated collectors from André Breton to Pablo Picasso and from Pierre Vérité to Jacques Kerchache.
In 2000, Kerchache was largely responsible for introducing works by these peoples considered "without writing or history" to the Louvre, foreshadowing the opening of the musée du Quai Branly in Paris.
"Masterpieces the world over are born free and equal," to quote the man who loved these magical objects from all over the globe: from Africa (Ivory Coast, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Angola, Burkina-Faso, Gabon, Madagascar, etc.), oceania (Papua New Guinea, the Marquesas Islands, the Cook Islands, the Solomon Islands, New Zealand, Polynesia, etc.), the americas (the Tainos of the caribbean islands, the Inuits from the gulf of Alaska) and insulindia (Borneo, Indonesia). While they acquired the rank of art works late on in their history, since 2000, the ethnic arts have certainly been adding fuel to the (sacred) fire in online auctions, with dogon masks, fang statues, kota mbulu-ngulu reliquary figures, maoris pendants and eskimo sculptures.


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An ancient and extremely rare kneeling female statuette, with a scarified face on the forehead and temples, arms folded over the belly. The head of this statuette, with a face with large eyes engraved in arcs and marked with emblematic scale scarifications, recalls the most beautiful okuyi masks of the Punu or mukuji of the Lumbu. It is distinguished, beyond its rarity, by a particularly successful hairstyle, with a curved central bun and three drooping braids treated in flat planes reminiscent of the hairstyle of the Punu statuette in the Vérité collection, and subdivided and highlighted by a superbly rhythmic geometric structure. The treatment of the shoulder blades is subtle and shows, like the ancient kaolin, a very beautiful ancient style. It is difficult to determine the precise use of this sculpture as it is part of a rare corpus. It is likely that it was placed next to or on a basket, an altar, as a guardian of a reliquary, or that it was linked to a protection rite, or to a specific request linked to fertility given the position of its arms. But it is difficult when discovering this sculpture not to immediately think of the famous lumbu statuette, guardian of a reliquary, formerly in the collections of the Musée de L'Homme, so rare is this type of sculpture. See, among other publications, for the lumbu reliquary guardian statuette formerly in the collections of the Musée de l'Homme and (renamed punu) in the collections of the Musée du Quai Branly, on the cover and p. 58 of the exhibition catalog: L'Idéal féminin dans l'art africain, Éd. Galeries Lafayette, 2001; or Lumbu, Un art sacré, Éd. Gourcuff-Gradenigo et Galerie Bernard Dulon, 2016, p. 141, fig. 31. Lumbu or Punu, Gabon Wood, old white (kaolin) and orange pigments, wear, small visible lack at one foot (old breakage), old oxidation and old patina. H. 22 cm Provenance : - M. Malraison - Dr. R. Taburet, acquired from the previous owner then transmitted by descent. Exhibitions and publication : - Art Noir exhibition, Musée de Brest, 1968, reproduced fig. 259 of the catalog. - Exhibition Regard sur l'Art Tribal, Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne de Brest, February-March 1999.

Estim. 6,000 - 8,000 EUR

A Kota Guardian Figure, "mbulu ngulu" - Reliquary figure, "mbulu ngulu" Kota-Ndassa, Gabon Mit Sockel / with base Wood, copper alloys. H 51 cm. Provenance: - Adalbert von Alföldy, Eislingen. - Liselotte Spuida, Pfronten. - Auction house Zemanek-Münster, Würzburg, 09.03.2019. - Swiss private collection, Vaud. The Kota peoples (formerly also called "Bakota") are located in northeastern Gabon to the Republic of Congo. They include mainly the Mahongwe, Shamaye, Shaké, Obamba, Wumbu and Ndassa. The Kota worshipped significant ancestors in ancestor worship, and the associated reliquary figures called "boho-na-bwete" are a particularly remarkable creation within African art. The figures, carved from wood and supplemented with metal applications of various colors, were embedded up to the neck in woven rattan baskets or simpler textile bales. These containers contained, in addition to earthly remains of the bodies or body parts of important ancestors, other power objects of all kinds (remnants of the respective personal possessions of an ancestor, amulets, valuables, medicine, healing utensils, animal relics, etc.). The task of the powerful relic keepers was to guard the irreplaceable reliquaries and protect them from harm. Relic baskets were witnesses and material evidence of the bloodline. Most of the time, the power-laden packages were venerated in secret and in designated reliquaries, although the physical memorials could also be presented publicly on the occasion of traditional rituals of the clan community. In order to activate the connection with the ancestors and to obtain their goodwill, the relics were also taken out of their baskets and became the object of ritual offerings and libations. The guardian figurines were originally kept for generations, with reliquaries being abandoned, collected by missionaries and colonial officials, exchanged, or even destroyed as religious beliefs changed throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Because the guardian figures were less sacred to the Kota than the relics, enterprising Kota at the same time also sold more or less skillfully executed relic figures, as well as those intended for the market, to interested art dealers and collectors. The time of origin of the specimen offered here, a head crowned by a magnificent coiffure with a concave face and a body reduced to the essentials, can be dated to the beginning of the last century due to its characteristics. Following the typification of Efraim Andersson (cf. Contribution ä l'ethnographie des Kuta. Uppsala University 1953), it belongs stylistically to the works of the Kota-Ndassa. The absence of the typical half-moon structure above the face is rare and found precisely on some Ndassa relic figures. An almost identical object is in the Brooklyn Museum in New York (inventory number probably #1537A), and an interesting comparison is offered by a specimen collected by Eduard Trezenem (1904-1957) before 1931 from the Musée du quai Branly in Paris (inv. no. 71.1931.87.19. The reverse, which always has a diamond shape in light relief and sometimes a small associated face in the form of a mask, was also left uncovered here. That Pablo Picasso himself owned two Kota reliquary figures in his collection of African art is not surprising. Works of art of this kind are among the most important sources of inspiration for the art of the 20th century: when Europe's artists began their search for liberation from occidental patterns of thought and art at the turn of the century, they favored a shift from perception-based to conceptual art. In the course of this debate, among other things, Cubism emerged as one of the important art movements of modernism. The avant-garde artists - among them André Derain, Maurice de Vlaminck, Henri Matisse - also received decisive inspiration from African works of art, such as those on display in France at the former Musée d'Ethnographie du Trocadéro in Paris. Further reading: - Chaffin, Alain & Françoise (1980). L'Art Kota. Les figures de reliquaire. Poitiers: Aubin. - Stepan, Peter (2006). Picasso's Collection of African and Oceanic Art. Masters of Metamorphosis. New York: Prestel. CHF 4 000 / 8 000 EUR 4 000 / 8 000

Estim. 4,000 - 8,000 CHF

English workshop, traditionally known as the "Nottingham School", second half of the 15th century The Coronation of the Virgin Relief carved panel in polychromed and gilded alabaster, originally part of an altarpiece Size : 43 x 32 x 5,5 cm Restoration in the lower left part, uniformity with a light brown wash Provenance : private collection from Normandy, by descent. Comparative works: -England, ca. 1460-1490, The Swansea altarpiece, carved and painted alabaster panels in a painted and gilded wood frame, 83 x 216 cm, London, Victoria and Albert Museum, no. A.89:1 to 8, 10 to 15-1919 https://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O70204/the-swansea-altarpiece-altarpiece-unknown/ -England, 15th century, The Assumption of the Virgin, polychrome alabaster panel, 41.9 x 26.7 cm, London Victoria and Albert Museum, no. A.32-1910. Related literature: -Markus Schlicht, "Standardization as a guarantee of commercial success? English alabasters of the late Middle Ages," in Perspective, Actualité en Histoire de l'art, no. 2, 2019, pp.179-194 ; - Zuleika Murat, English alabaster cavings and their cultural contexts, The Boydell Press, 2019; - Le retable en alabâtre des 7 joies de la Vierge, basilique Saint-Michel, Bordeaux, CIAP file, 2019 This alabaster panel of remarkable quality originally belonged to a devotional altarpiece produced by an English workshop in the 16th century. It depicts the Virgin seated in majesty in a mandorla flanked by six angels, those in the upper register in full crowning action. Kneeling to the left of the Virgin, St. Thomas receives the Virgin's belt, which slips from his waist through his robe. This iconographic detail usually belongs to the scene of the Assumption of the Virgin. Here the "image-maker" seems to have skilfully merged two scenes traditionally represented next to each other in altarpieces dedicated to the Seven Joys of the Virgin. Born in the 15th century in the Franciscan sphere, the devotion to the Seven Joys of the Virgin (Annunciation, Nativity, Adoration of the Magi, Resurrection of Christ, Ascension of Christ, Assumption of the Virgin, Coronation of the Virgin) was widely disseminated through alabaster works executed by English workshops, such as the altarpiece kept in the church of Saint-Michel in Bordeaux or the Swansea altarpiece kept in the Victoria and Albert Museum. As Markus Schlicht points out, the compositional changes in the Coronation of the Virgin (and here the merging of the two events of the Assumption and the Coronation) probably reflect important theological changes. The Virgin explicitly embodies the Church and the Papacy, as the crown, in the form of a papal tiara, suggests. The crowning, traditionally done by God the Father and Christ, is here done by two angels; the cut-out at the top indicates the presence of an upper register that could have been inhabited by a God in bust form, relegating the divine figure to the background, as could be seen in the scene of the Assumption in the church of Montreal (Yonne). This composition bears witness to a complex doctrinal formulation relayed by an image of great richness, supported by the polychromy and the variety of details. The decoration of the mandorla, composed of triangular motifs of various colors, is close to the most beautiful productions of the workshops of the so-called Nottingham School. Expert: Cabinet Lacroix - Jeannest

Estim. 8,000 - 10,000 EUR