Carter B. Horsley
auction of African, Oceanic
and Pre-Columbian Art at Sotheby's May 17, 2007 includes several
major works from the Albright-Knox Gallery of Art in Buffalo including
an impressive Benin metal head of an Oba, circa 1575-1625, and
a marvelous Aztec stone figure of a goddess with a tasseled headdress.
Benin head, Lot 121, is
9 1/4 inches high and probably brass, and was reportedly collected
by a member of the British Punitive Expedition in 1897. It has
been widely published and exhibited.
kingdom of Benin flourished
in Nigeria during the 16th Century when, according to the catalogue
entry for this lot, it "became the dominant military power
and imperial force on the West Coast of Africa." In 1897,
the British army, the entry continued, "responding to the
murder of a British vice-consul, captured Benin's capital and
destroyed the royal palace. Around 3,000 castings, most notably
also the Albright-Knox head, were taken as loot to London and
later dispersed throughout museums and private collecitons around
the world. The technical perfection and mastery of Benin castings
had been unheard of for objects coming from Africa. Their arrival
in Europe significantly changed the perception of African people
and their culture in the eyes of Westerners, earning Benin artists
a legendary reputation until today."
has an estimate of
$1,000,000 to $1,500,000. It sold for $4,744,000 including
the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article.
The sale was quite successful with 129 of the 147 offered lots
selling for $10,769,720.
is a Benin plaque of
a warrior, circa 17th Century, that is 17 3/4 inches high. It
has an $120,000 to $180,000. It sold for $120,000.
is a weathered and
partially eroded wood bust of a female from the Republic of benin.
It is 10 inches high and property of the Albright-Knox Gallery
of Art. It was once in the collection of Charles Ratton of Paris.
The catalogue notes that the nose, mouth and part of the forehead
have been chipped away and that a vertical hole extends through
the core of the piece and that iron tacks near the nose may be
remains of an early repair "and testify to the unusual importance
of the piece in its original cultural context." It has an
estimate of $25,000 to $35,000. It sold for $168,000.
is an interesting Igbo
shrine figure from Nigeria that is 18 1/4 inches high. It is property
of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and was formerly in the collection
of Ernst Anspach of New York and the Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial
Collection of the Museum of Primitive Art in New York. It has
a very modest estimate of $3,000 to $5,000. It sold for
is a good Songe power
figure from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is 12 3/4
inches high and is property of the Brooklyn Museum of Art. It
has a modest estimate of $4,000 to $6,000. It sold for $12,000.
Songe piece is Lot
151, a large and handsome Kifwebe mask. It is 22 3/4 inches high.
The catalogue notes that "the deep striations painted with
various colors recall the metaphysical labyrinth the initiates
have to stride during their initiation. The lot has a modest estimate
of $20,000 to $30,000. It sold for $57,000.
is a large and impressive
Songe male community power figure. It is 30 1/4 inches high. The
figure is wearing a fiber skirt and the arms rest on a swollen
abdomen with two magic hair bundles wrapped around the chest and
a bell hanging from the back. The lot has a modest estimate of
$30,000 to $50,000. It sold for $114,000.
is a good Bamana mask
from Mali. It is 19 inches high and is property of the collection
of Kirk and Anne Douglas of Los Angeles. It was once in the collection
of J. J. Klejman. It has a modest estimate of $5,000 to $7,000.
It sold for $13,200.
is a rare female figure,
Turamarubi People, Gulf Province, Papula New Guinea. It is 44
inches high and was formerly in the collection of Wayne Heathcote
and the Masco Corporation and
was published in the catalogue of an exhibition of the Masco collection
at the Detroit Institute of Arts in 1995. It was offered in the
May 17, 2002 auction at Sotheby's when it has a modest estimate
of $40,000 to $60,000 and sold for $95,600. The estimate in this
auction is $125,000 to $175,000. It sold for $114,000.
is a very impressive
ceremonial adze from Cook Island in the South Sandwich Islands.
It is 28 1/8 inches high and was probably collected by Captain
Stephen Martin (1780-1873). It has a modest estimate of $3,000
to $5,000. It sold for $4,500.
is a fine Solomon Islands
canoe prow ornament that is 14 inches high. It was once in the
collection of Charles Ratton of Paris. The catalogue notes that
"Most figureheads depict the head and arms of an anthropomorphic
being, decorated with nautilus shell inset in patterns which replicate
those found on the faces of warriors." "Their existence
is documented as early as the middle of the eighteenth centuy
in the journal of the French solider, navigator and explorer,
Louis de Bougainville, who gave his name to the northernmost island,"
it maintained, adding that "the impressive size and great
age of this prow ornament attest to the importance of this ritual
has an estimate of
$125,000 to $175,000. It sold for $216,000.
is a splendid stone
Aztec figure of the Goddess with the Tasseled Headdress known
as Chalchiuhtlicue. It is 20 inches high and dated circa A.D.
1400-1521. It is property of the Albright-Knox Gallery of Art
and once was in the collection of Charles Ratton of Paris. The
goddess is associated with water and described as the wife, consort
or sister to the powerful rain god Tlaloc. She has deeply incised
cheeks, which, the catalogue notes, would have been filled with
stone or shell. The lot has a conservative estimate of $100,000
to $150,000. It sold for $1,216,000.
is a superb Teotihuacan
stone mask, Classic, circa A.D. 450-650. It is 8 inches high.
The catalogue notes that "This mask's idealized beauty, massive
yet balanced proportions and original shell inlay make it one
of the finest examples of the masks of Teotihuacan - the greatest
Mesoamerican metropolis of the Classic era." "The masks
were headstones," it continued, "for elaborately clothed
effigies with the characteristic flattened top of the head and
perforations used to support and attach the headdress and other
accoutrements." The lot has an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000.
It sold for $684,000.
is a fine small Teotihuacan
stone figure, Protoclassic/Early Classic, circa A.D. 200-400.
It is 6 1/4 inches high. It has a modest estimate of $10,000 to
$15,000. It sold for $12,000.
is a very fine Veracruz
Late Classic, stone yoke of a shaman grasping rattlesnakes, Classic,
A.D. 450-650. It is 16 1/2 inches long. It has a modest estimate
of $60,000 to $80,000. It sold for $92,000.