Art d'Afrique et d'Océanie

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Sale: Friday 14 December 2018 - 15:30
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Lot n° 46 - Prestigious Luba adze, Kibiki or Kasolwa, Studio of middle Luvua, Democratic Republic of the Congo
H. 14.9 in - W. 10.2 in

Provenance:
- Commandant Charles Liebrechts (1858-1938), collectée en 1886
- René Withofs, Bruxelles
- Baudouin de Grunne, Bruxelles
- Bernard de Grunne, Bruxelles
- Collection privée

Exhibition:
- Arts Primitifs, Théâtre National, Bruxelles, 1971
- Utotombo - L'Art de l'Afrique Noire dans les Collections Privées Belges, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Bruxelles, 25 mars - 5 juin 1988
- Luba - Aux Sources du Zaire, Musée Dapper, Paris, 25 novembre 1993 - 17 avril 1994
- Genesis - Ideas of Origin in African Sculpture, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 19 novembre 2002 - 13 avril 2003
- The Inner Eye: Vision and Transcendence in African Arts, LACMA, 26 février - 9 juillet 2017

Publication:
- Adriaan Claerhout, Arts Primitifs, Brussels, Théâtre National, 1971, n°42
- Gerald Berjonneau, and Jean-Louis Sonnery, Rediscovered Masterpieces of African Art, Boulogne, Art 135, 1987, p. 265, plate 264
- Luc et al De Heusch, Utotombo: Kunst uit Zwart-Afrika in Belgisch Privé-Bezit. Bruxelles, Palais des Beaux-Arts, 1988, p. 233, n°222
- Jacques Kerchache, Jean-Louis Paudrat and Lucien Stephan, L'Art Africain, L'Art et les Grandes Civilisations. 18, Paris, Editions Mazenod, 1988. Traduction anglaise, Art of Africa, New York, Harry N. Abrams, 1993, n°1017
- François Neyt, Luba - Aux Sources du Zaire, Paris, Musée Dapper, 1993, p. 114
- Philippe Guimiot, Regard Sur une Collection, Bruxelles, Art et Objects Tribaux II, 1995, n°30
- Holland Cotter, A Show Bursting Out, New York Times, 22 novembre 2002
- Alisa LaGamma, Genesis, Ideas of Origin in African Sculpture. New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 2002, p. 50, n°17

The importance and the high degree of refinement in this piece of regalia have led to it being exhibited in prestigious exhibitions. It has appeared widely in publications and has been owned by well-known collectors.
‘The Twite2 set the king on the throne, a seat with a caryatid, took a spear and an axe from a raffia fabric bag and presented them to the king, who then held them in his hands... He spoke of the work of the blacksmiths, of his ancestors and their attachment to the kingdom'.
‘Metal objects reinforced the king's power, certainly in terms of wealth, but also on the relational level. Metalworking is closely linked to life and fecundity.' F. Neyt, Luba, Dapper, 1993, n°107. The image of women in the Luba culture was very important since women were both the repository of and links with spiritual power. Royal wives played a vital role in royal succession and in the distribution of land, in particular.
As befits these powers, the head on the axe is female. Her face is slightly tilted, showing both her inwardness and very gentle expression. The Luba style is an art epitomised by harmoniously distributed curves. The figure's cross-shaped headdress, decorated with a nail in the lower part, makes a very beautiful effect. The head rests on a ringed neck, which is quite unusual in axes like these, prolonging the cylindrical handle, which is tapered in the middle for extra elegance. The oval and protuberant base features an abstract decoration made up of engraved, slanted and embossed ribs and a series of brass nails with cone-shaped heads around the outside. The thick iron blade has decorative incisions evoking the scarification worn by some Luba women. Some of the signs of use on the handle and the ears, as well as its smooth, black-brown patina are signs of old and regular handling, helping us to date it very probably to the 19th century.
1- Major Liebrechts is the author, among other works, with Lieutenant T. Masué, of Guide de la section de l'état Indépendant du Congo à l'
Exposition de Bruxelles, Tervuren, 1897. He visited Congo several times between 1882 and 1889 2- The Twite had three roles, the main one being the kingdom's regent, and for this
DSC reason he could be seated on a plaited mat.

Prestigious Luba adze, Kibiki or Kasolwa, Studio of middle Luvua, Democratic Republic of the Congo H. 14.9 in W. 10.2 in Provenance: Commandant Charles Liebrechts (1858 1938), coll…

Lot n° 57 - Stilt-step, Marqueas Islands
H. 13.7 in

Provenance:
- Collection Georges de Miré Collection, Paris
- Collection George Ortiz, Genève
- Collection Jean-Claude Bellier, Paris
- Collection privée

Exhibition:
- Catalogue de la vente Georges de Miré, Drouot, 7 mai 1931, lot 151 (non reproduit)

Bibliographie:
- Allen Wardwell, Island Ancestors: Oceanic Art from the Masco Collection, The Detroit Institute of Arts, Washington University Press, Seattle, 1994, p. 230
- Anthony J.P.Meyer, Oceanic Art, Könemann Verlagsgesellschaft, Cologne, 1995, vol. 2, p. 497
- Catalogue de la vente George Ortiz, Sotheby's Parke Bernet, Londres, 29 juin 1978, n°217

Regards Visionnaires: He "will certainly be remembered as one of the most talented and precocious discoverers of tribal art in the 20th century.
He was only in his early twenties when he began collecting." At the exhibition at the Pigalle Gallery in 1930, no less than 41 works from African and Oceania were lent by him. The collection was sold a year later, on 7 May 1931. It is no accident that this beautiful stilt step joined the collection of George Ortiz, a famous collector of archaeological artefacts, but also of works from Oceania, and a great connoisseur in the art of Polynesia. He sold the lion's share of his collection, ‘Primitive Works of Art', in London in 1978.
Later it arrived in the collection of Jean-Claude Bellier, an Impressionist gallery owner, and great collector of tribal art, including a number of objects from the Miré sale. This stilt step shows a beautifully proportioned male tiki sculpted in the round. The artistic finesse of the head, carved in traditional style, and the strict regularity of scarification all over the body required great mastery on the part of the sculptors. The exceptional nature of the object derives from the fact that the tiki is standing on a head. A very attractive dark brown patina on very hard wood covers the tiki and the stilt step. We know that these tapuva'e stirrups were tied to long stilts and would be used during dances at funeral ceremonies or ceremonies in honour of the village chief.

Stilt step, Marqueas Islands H. 13.7 in Provenance: Collection Georges de Miré Collection, Paris Collection George Ortiz, Genève Collection Jean Claude Bellier, Paris Collection pr…

Lot n° 58 - Hei Tiki Maori pendant, New Zealand, Polynesia
L 4.5 in

Provenance:
- Ancienne collection Edward Armytage
- Wayne Heathcote
- Collection privée

A Hei Tiki pendant with the head tilted to the right, and round eyes dug out at the irises. The details of the nose and mouth are simply carved and have been worn away by handling. The foetal body shape has been carefully modelled in the abdominal region, and framed by separated arms hanging down beside the hips. The legs are crossed and blend into one another. We can the note the deep green colour of the warm, translucent nephrite or pounamu around the outside.
Presence of an old label, Edward Armytage Collection.
Hei tiki were once worn around the neck by high-ranking Maori men, women and children as a sign of social status and prestige. Women wore them during pregnancy and child-bearing, and to boost fertility, as a talisman. For men, hei tiki were sometimes associated with periods of war. They were thought to ward off evil spirits and to protect the wearer from ill fortune. (In. La Pierre Sacrée des Maori, Editions
Musée du Quai Branly Jacques Chirac/Actes Sud, Paris, 2017, page 114). The late Edward Armytage (1894 (?) - 1946) formed what was probably one of the finest private collections of Maori jade items. Established especially during his three travels in New Zeeland, it noteworthy increased in 1944 with the acquisition of the T.A.
Donne's collection, itself partly constituted by the John White's collection. Armytage succeedeed in bringing together heighty-five pieces, showing all the diversity and richness of the Maori jade pendants. The intrinsic qualities of our hei tiki, together with its historical pedigree, make it a precious specimen.

Hei Tiki Maori pendant, New Zealand, Polynesia L 4.5 in Provenance: Ancienne collection Edward Armytage Wayne Heathcote Collection privée A Hei Tiki pendant with the head tilted to…

Lot n° 59 - Tahiri ra'a flywhisk, Austral Islands, Polynesia
H. 11 in

Provenance:
- Eleanor Constance Bentley, 113 Banbury Road, Oxford
- James T. Hooper, Arundel, n°510, acquis lors d'une vente en février 1932
- Christie's Londres, 22 Juin 1993, lot 256
- Wayne Heathcote, Angleterre
- Collection privée

Publication:
- Hooper and Burland, The Art of Primitive Peoples, 1953, planche 14B
- Steven Phelps, Art and Artefacts of the South Pacific, Africa, and the Americas, Hutchinson Publications, Londres, 1975, pg. 119, fig. 510
- Roger Rose, On the Origin and Diversity of Tahitian Janiform Fly Whisks, in Mead, S., Exploring the Visual Arts of Oceania, Honolulu, 1979, pp. 202-213, p. 213, note 7
- Terence Barrow, Art of Tahiti, Blacker Calmann Cooper Ltd., Londres 1979, p. 55, fig.56, au centre de l'image
Three kinds of fly chasers and their origin, according to Roger Rose (1979, p. 202/213).
It was once thought that these objects, attributed on old labels to ‘The Society Islands', came from the main island of Tahiti, neglecting the fact that the Austral Islands could be included in this group. It was only after the 1st voyage of Captain Cook (1768-1771) on HMS Endeavour, which returned home with two fly chasers from Rurutu and Tubuai, that their origin in the Austral Islands was confirmed.
Complicating matters for early researchers, it must be added that the sculptors from the Austral Islands worked in Tahiti and that their fly chasers may have been exchanged for other objects. The fly chaser shown here is one of the 7 listed by R.Rose as belonging to type C. Four of them are in the British Museum, one in the Museum of Edinburgh (Indiens, 1982, p. 23) and one in the Museum of Auckland (Oldman, 1943, pl. 11 and 12). The type C has a handle with an octagonal surface, tapering in the middle, and with a herringbone pattern. In type A and B, the "Janus" figures are much more geometrical in shape, the sculptures are wider and the handles are often made up of a series of discs (See photo of the Oxford fly chaser).
The purpose of 'fly chasers' According to the account of Captain James Wilson on the ship the Duff (1.799, p. 357/358) and the inhabitants of Central Polynesia: ‘never suffer a fly to touch their food if they can help it; and should they find one dead in their puddings, or any of their provisions, which sometimes cannot be avoided, they throw it to the dogs. Hence they all carry fly-flaps... When the provisions are dressed and hot before you, the boys continue to fan away the flies with fly-flaps, nothing being more offensive or disagreeable than that a fly should get into their mouths; and their aversion to touch them with the hands is such, that should a dead fly be found on any part of their body, they would go instantly to the river and wash themselves.' Today most researchers, such as Roger Rose, David Shaw King or Steven
Hooper have a widely differing views about how these objects were used. Here is the opinion of Steven Hooper in Polynésie, Arts et Divinités 1760-1860, Musée du Quai Branly, Paris, 2008, p. 207, n°173 referring to the Oxford fly chaser PRM 1906.20.6, which is intact and has pearl oyster shells tied to it. ‘This may indicate that the shells were used like bells to be shaken during religious celebrations (Hooper, 2001), and the objects were not used to chase away flies. In 1769, Tupaia de Ra'iatea drew two young women dancing with a fly chaser in each hand (Joppien and Smith, 1985, p.150). Description of the sculpture: The top of this rare and very old (18th century) fly chaser from the Austral Islands features two small twin characters joined at the head, shoulders and hips. The body is pierced with a hole through which string with pearl oyster shells was tied. The faces have a pointed chin, which is particularly striking in profile, the merest sketch of a mouth, eyes with deep brow bones and a short nose. The bulging forehead has two small, worn down protuberances (which are more pronounced on some examples). The arms form a right angle, so that the hands are joined over the belly. The feet pass over the edges of the octagonal surface of the handle, which is covered with a series of small herringbone patterns. The base of the handle ends with two discs decorated with 15 stylised pigs heads. The lower part of the fly chaser where the string would have been threaded is made of attractive braided sennit strands.,This (type C) fly chaser is the oldest of the three types studied. Its deep black and lacquered patina is one of the reasons why it is considered one of the most beautiful objects of its kind. The circumstances in which it was found and its history as part of major collections help to reinforce the idea that this is a masterpiece of Central Polynesian art.

Tahiri ra'a flywhisk, Austral Islands, Polynesia H. 11 in Provenance: Eleanor Constance Bentley, 113 Banbury Road, Oxford James T. Hooper, Arundel, n°510, acquis lors d'une vente e…

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