View full screen - View 1 of Lot 113. A group of twelve carved marine ivory figures depicting Haida and European people, Pacific Northwest Coast, circa 1840.
113

A group of twelve carved marine ivory figures depicting Haida and European people, Pacific Northwest Coast, circa 1840

Restricted Species

Estimate:

15,000

to
- 25,000 GBP

Property of the descendants of William & Robert Adam

A group of twelve carved marine ivory figures depicting Haida and European people, Pacific Northwest Coast, circa 1840

A group of twelve carved marine ivory figures depicting Haida and European people, Pacific Northwest Coast, circa 1840

Estimate:

15,000

to
- 25,000 GBP

Lot sold:

75,600

GBP

Property of the descendants of William & Robert Adam

A group of twelve carved marine ivory figures depicting Haida and European people, Pacific Northwest Coast, circa 1840


relief carved and depicted wearing Haida and European costume

tallest figure 50mm., smallest figure 29mm.; 2in., 1¼in.

Minor traces of polychrome to some of the figures. Rubbing and ingrained dirt to some relief carved elements. One female figure with chip to hand. Typical pitting and Some chips, notably to one female figues arm. Contained in a modern 20th century bark-type box. Possibly by a mix of hands (the smallest figure appears to vary in detail when compared to the others). APPROX: Sizes in mm 50mm., 49mm., 49mm., 45mm., 45mm., 45mm., 45mm., 47mm., 44mm., 44mm., 44mm., 29mm.


The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colors and shades which are different to the lot's actual color and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation. The condition report is a statement of opinion only. For that reason, the condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS ONLINE CONDITION REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE/BUSINESS APPLICABLE TO THE RESPECTIVE SALE.

This lot contains endangered species. Sotheby's recommends that buyers check with their own government regarding any importation requirements prior to placing a bid. Please note that Sotheby's will not assist buyers with the shipment of this lot to the US. A buyer's inability to export or import these lots cannot justify a delay in payment or sale cancellation.
Acquired from a local craftsperson by Eden Colvile (1819–1893), Governor of Ruperts Land and later the Hudson's Bay Company;
Possibly a gift to his sister Isabella Colvile (1812-96);
Thence by descent to her grandson, Major General Arthur Henry Marindin (1868-1947);
Thence by descent to his daughter, Barbara Eunice Marindin Adam (1905-88);
Thence by descent.

In the 19th century, on the Northwest Coast of British Columbia, Haida artists and European and American sailors and traders engaged in a flourishing trade for sculptures that encompassed imagery from both Haida and European cultures. The group of charming marine ivory figures offered here includes fine examples of both Haida and European characters, dressed against the cold of winter in flowing robes and long coats. Deftly carved, these engaging little figures demonstrate the Haida artist’s keen eye for detail. Amongst this rich cast of characters, note the two European men, who stand with their hands in the pockets of their sumptuous frock coats. The artist has, with evident delight, carefully depicted the luxuriant eyebrows, the artfully curled hair, and the soup-strainer moustache. Carved with similar care is the figure of an august Haida chief in his richly decorated fringed ceremonial robe, out of which peeks the shield-like form of a “copper”, the most important object of symbolic wealth amongst the Haida.


Most of the Haida objects traded with Europeans were made from argillite, a lustrous, fine-grained stone that is found only on a steep wooded mountainside in Haida Gwaii. Although it was not uncommon for argillite figures to have faces carved from marine ivory (notably in the case of certain “sea captain” figures and some of the elaborate “panel pipes”), small marine ivory figures such as those offered here are very rare and greatly outnumbered in collections by argillite sculptures. For another rare Haida marine ivory sculpture, see the very fine bust of a European man in the collection of the Royal British Columbia Museum, Victoria (cat. no. 16497).


The group was discovered hidden in a leather trunk with a label inscribed '...bone figures brought by Eden Colvile from Hudson Bay Territories about 1840' which appears to support this provenance. A copy of which is available with this lot.