500 Gallery will Hold The First in a Series of Online Auctions Dedicated to African Tribal Art on Wednesday, Sept. 30
The catalog – a taut 60 lots – is packed with rare examples of Bangwa, Dogon, Baule, Ibibio, Yoruba, Bakongo and Senufo art, gathered over the past few decades by a collector in Massachusetts.
“This auction has an abbreviated, ‘teaser’ selection from a deep collection of African tribal art that will be coming to market over the next few years,” said Bruce Wood of 500 Gallery, adding, “Cataloging it has become a fascinating endeavor and we're looking forward to presenting many surprisingly rare masterworks.” Watch the 500 Gallery website for more details as they emerge.
A prime candidate for top lot of the Sept. 30 sale is the early 20th century house post from the Yoruba People of Nigeria (est. $50,000-$150,000). The house post, 73 inches tall and made from carved wood enhanced with pigments, is designed to stand at an entryway, and shows the status of the occupants within. The main figure is a queen, seated on an elaborately decorated stool.
A marital group (or Nomos) from the Dogon People of Mali, estimated to have been made circa late 19th century, is expected to bring $30,000-$60,000. The seated group of eight hermaphroditic figures, with alternating male and female attributes, is dense-wood carved with raised arms and upward stretched fingers, a gesture of praying for special gifts (or, specifically, marital success).
An early 20th century Badu plank mask with a female form from the Nafana People of the Ivory Coast carries a pre-sale estimate of $20,000-$60,000. The 47 ¾ inch by 16 ¼ inch carved wood mask is decorated with a bold abstract design and colored with white kaolin clay and other pigments. The edges are worn smooth and the overall patina gives the mask a warm appearance.
An elaborately decorated ritual vessel from the Dogon People of Mali, made in the early-to-mid 20th century, should change hands for $25,000-$50,000. The carved wood hollowed ovoid vessel with a convex lid is warmly toned and finely patinated, and shows seated Nomo figures (evoking Dogon ancestors) and horses (expressing status and prestige and utilized in harvest celebrations).
A carved wood seated male figure from the Bamileke/Bangwa People of Cameroon, 36 inches tall, is estimated to command $25,000-$50,000. The circa 1900 memorial portrait figure of an important man is shown seated on a single-leg stool decorated with geometric designs. Such Bangwa sculptures are usually referred to as Leffem, after the society tasked with their keeping.
Also having an estimate of $25,000-$50,000 is a rare and unusual anthropomorphic bird mask from the Dan People of Liberia, 16 inches tall by 9 inches wide, on a 20 ½ inch stand. The 19th or 20th century carved wood mask with elaborately braided fiber hair exhibits a blend of human and bird features. It has a human-like face, but also a curved beak and hummingbird-like tongue.
An equestrian sculpture from the Dogon People of Mali, showing a horse with two riders (one male and one female), carved from hardwood in the 19th century, should gallop off for $20,000-$50,000. The sculpture has the patina of libations, possibly indicating the owners used it to attain social distinction. The Dogon often interpret equestrian statues as a display of wealth and power.
A carved wood face mask from the Grebo People of Liberia, combining fanciful elements of human and multiple animal traits, 20 inches tall and 19 inches wide, circa mid-20th century, has an estimate of $8,000-$16,000. The mask, conveying great determination and energy, is crested with wild animal horns and features a beard of braided fiber cords. It rests on a custom stand.
A large, early 20th century Nkisi N’Kondi (or power figure) from the Bakongo People of the Democratic Republic of Congo is estimated to reach $6,500-$15,000. The figure is made of carved wood, pigments, fabric, glass, nails and natural elements. A Nkisi N’Kondi is a magical charm, carved in the likeness of a human, and meant to highlight its function in human affairs.
A bird mask with teeth from the Dan People of Liberia, carved out of wood in the form of the abstracted face of a bird, whose open beak is lined with teeth, having an overall dark stained patina, has an estimate of $5,000-$12,000. The periphery of the late 19th/early 20th century mask is incised with holes for costume attachment. It measures 13 inches tall by 6 ¼ inches wide.
All 60 lots can be viewed in the 500 Gallery showroom, at 1243 Pond Street in Franklin, Mass., by appointment only on Tuesdays and Saturdays. To make an appointment, call 508-834-8190. For more info, visit www.500Gallery.com.
1243 Pond Street
Franklin, MA 02038 (USA)
500 Gallery specializes in original artworks and works that are in the style of, in the manner of, or attributed to fine art masters. The firm is always accepting quality consignments for future auctions. To consign a single piece or an entire collection, you may call them at 508-834-8190; or, you can email them at info@500Gallery.com. For more info, visit www.500Gallery.com.
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