Lot 99
  • 99

Kongo-Vili Kneeling Power Figure, Democratic Republic of the Congo

150,000 - 250,000 USD
509,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • wood, cloth


Joseph Henrion (1936-1983), Brussels
By descent through the family
Marc Leo Felix, Brussels, acquired from the above
Helmut Stern, Ann Arbor, acquired from the above
Robert and Lillian Bohlen, Brighton, acquired from the above
Sotheby's, New York, May 16, 2008, lot 134, consigned by the above
Myron Kunin, Minneapolis, acquired at the above auction


The African-American Institute, Purchase, Masterpieces of the People's Republic of the Congo, September 25, 1980 - January 24, 1981
Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, Spirits Embodied:  Art of the Congo. Selections from the Helmut F. Stern Collection, October 1, 1999 - July 2, 2000
Hamline University Art Galleries, St. Paul, Icons of Perfection: Figurative Sculpture from Africa, December 2, 2005 - February 11, 2006


The African-American Institute (ed.), Masterpieces of the People's Republic of the Congo, Purchase, 1980, p. 26, fig. 21
Raoul Lehuard, Art Bakongo: les centres de style, Arnouville, 1989, Vol. II, p. 557, fig. K 1-3-1
Evan M. Maurer and Niangi Batulukisi, Spirits Embodied: Art of the Congo. Selections from the Helmut F. Stern Collection, Minneapolis, 1999, pp. 64 and 74, fig. 6
Frank Herreman, Icons of Perfection: Figurative Sculpture from Africa, Saint Paul, 2006, p. 37, cat. 20

Catalogue Note

At merely four and a half inches height distinguished by its great sculptural power, the Kunin Vili statuette is one of the great masterpieces of monumental miniature sculpture.

Discussing the present figure, Batulukisi (Maurer and Batulukisi 1999: 74) notes: "This kneeling female figure is a classic example of a magico-religious artifact that would have been used in healing and fertility rituals.  Other objects of this size are worn as amulets and serve as charms of protection.  It is a dynamic figure and appears very powerful with its large shoulders and defined torso.  Its chest and back bear scarifications in the form of cowry shells carved in high relief, and bracelets are carved in relief on both upper arms.  The figure is wearing a split cane collar and a little woven raffia outfit."