217
217
French or Spanish Colonial, 19th century
'BUG BEAR' MONEYBOX
Estimate
8001,200
JUMP TO LOT
217
French or Spanish Colonial, 19th century
'BUG BEAR' MONEYBOX
Estimate
8001,200
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

A Private View: Property from the Country Home of Christopher Cone and Stanley J. Seeger

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London

French or Spanish Colonial, 19th century
'BUG BEAR' MONEYBOX
carved and applied with mother-of-pearl and kilali beads fixed with black pitch, on a bentwood stand
incised P G O (to the underside)
coconut
8.5cm. high, 7cm. wide, 10cm. deep; 3 3/8 by 2 3/4 by 4in.
Probably late 19th century.
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Provenance

Private Collection (acquired in Paris in 1895)
Possibly Leander McCormick, Chicago
Michael Reese Service League Thrift-shop, Chicago (possibly donated from the above)
Philip W Ward, Chicago (acquired from the above circa 1956)
Christie's, New York, 13 May 1980, lot 23 (where attributed to Paul Gauguin)


Literature

Christopher Gray, Sculpture and Ceramics of Paul Gauguin, Baltimore, 1963, no. 118, illustrated pp. 255-56 

Catalogue Note

The history and attribution of the present lot is almost as extraordinary as the work itself. The piece probably originates from French Polynesia and is first recorded in a letter of a, likely American, female collector in Paris in 1896. Where it was intriguingly described as a ‘South Sea Curio. Reported to have been old native handiwork. However discovered to be the recent work of a [….] Frenchman who for a time lived in the islands’. The coconut resurfaced in 1956 when it was bought by Philip W. Ward from a thrift-shop in Chicago. Having discovered the signature P G O to the underside of the coconut, Philip Ward hoped to prove that the mysterious Frenchman was in fact the celebrated post-impressionist artist Paul Gauguin on one of his expeditions to Tahiti.

Christopher Gray published the present work in his 1963 monograph on Gauguin’s sculpture and ceramics, and athough he did not formally attribute the work to Gauguin, he explored Ward’s theory that the mystery coconut carver may indeed have been the great artist.

In 1980 the work was sold at Christie's in New York, and a confusion at the time meant that the work was catalogued as being by Paul Gauguin - using Gray’s monograph as the supporting evidence for the attribution. The attribution has since been disputed, but the work remains a fascinating and joyous piece of folk art whose history has been bizarrely entwined with one of history’s greatest artists.

A Private View: Property from the Country Home of Christopher Cone and Stanley J. Seeger

|
London