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23
Kota-Obamba Reliquary Figure, Gabon
Estimate
70,000100,000
LOT SOLD. 262,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT
23
Kota-Obamba Reliquary Figure, Gabon
Estimate
70,000100,000
LOT SOLD. 262,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

The Collection of Edwin & Cherie Silver

|
New York

Kota-Obamba Reliquary Figure, Gabon
on a base by the Japanese wood artist Kichizô Inagaki (1876-1951), Paris
Height: 20 1/2 in (51.4 cm)
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Provenance

Frank Crowninshield, New York
Russell B. Aitken, New York
Christie's New York, The Russell B. Aitken Collection of African, American Indian and Oceanic Art, April 3, 2003, lot 70
Edwin and Cherie Silver, Los Angeles, acquired at the above auction

Exhibited

Probably Jacques Seligmann Gallery, New York, Exhibition of Sculptures of Old African Civilizations, January 4 - January 22, 1936
Brooklyn Museum, New York, African Negro Art from the Collection of Frank Crowninshield, March 20 - April 27, 1937
National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C., Treasures, November 13, 2004 – August 15, 2005

Literature

Probably John Graham, Exhibition of Sculptures of Old African Civilizations, New York, 1936, listed
Brooklyn Museum, ed., African Negro Art from the Collection of Frank CrowninshieldNew York, 1937, listed
Sharon F. Patton, Treasures, Washington, D.C., 2005, unpaginated
Louis Perrois, Kota, Milan, 2012, p. 102, pl. 21, and p. 148

Catalogue Note

Perrois considers this type of Kota to be the most "classical", noting that examples "have been found since the end of the nineteenth century in the upper Ogooué area, to the south of Franceville-Masuku (the valleys of the rivers Passa, Lebombi, Lékédi, Leyou and Lébiyou) and the neighboring area of north-western Congo (near Zanaga, Sibiti and Mossendjo)" (Perrois, Kota, 2012, p. 60).

Regarding the present example, Perrois continues that this kota "from the former Russell B. Aitken Collection (which was in the famous Frank Crowninshield Collection, prior to 1930) [...] is an example of 'classical' work produced by the 'Obamba-Ndumu', with its beautiful oval face decorated with fine strips radiating out from the sharply-angled tetrahedral nose; the crescent shaped eyes are rendered in relief and overlap the broad central plate. At the top perches a large, transverse crested headdress, with two very broad, straight-bottomed side-buns supporting two vertically-hanging cylindrical pendants and a very conspicuous, wide diamond-shaped base covered with metal" (ibid., p. 60).

Outside of the perfectly balanced and meticulously decorated convex central medallion, the sculptor-blacksmith has employed wide, blank planes, patiently flattened but undecorated, in what could be called a minimal sculptural style; dramatically different from the wholly elaborate styles such as that seen in the previous lot. These broad forms are delineated by boundaries of narrow repoussé motifs, in a configuration which calls the viewer's attention to the rigorous architectural forms of the sculpture and the well-defined silhouette. The lozenge-base is of particularly solid structure, made of tapering quadrilaterals, with the top half covered with brass plaques, also of minimal form.

The Collection of Edwin & Cherie Silver

|
New York