Figure de reliquaire mbulu ngulu, Gabon Bois
Estimate: €30,000 - €40,000
ca. US$33,594 - US$44,793
Price realised: €38,640
Figure de reliquaire mbulu ngulu, Gabon Bois dur à patine brun foncé noir, laiton, cuivre H. 64 cm Mbulu ngulu reliquary figure, Gabon H. 25.2 in Provenance(s): - Collection Alphonse Kann (1870-1948), Paris, Londres - Galerie Brimaud, Paris - Collection privée française De belle ampleur, ce mbulu ngulu de style classique présente un visage concave sur lequel vient s'inscrire un regard en croissants de lune évidés. Le nez en tétraèdre prolonge un motif vertical incisé de chevrons traversant le front, une bouche en forme de losanges concentriques décrite plus bas. Réparties en quatre aires dont l'espacement dessine un motif cruciforme, de fines lamelles de cuivre sont insérées horizontalement dans l'âme en bois dur à la belle patine profondément incrustée. De part et d'autre de ce visage stylisé, deux panneaux en léger retrait que prolongent des pendeloques, une frise géométrique incisée à la périphérie. Au sommet, un croissant présentant le même sobre décor. Le piètement losangé est puissant, et partiellement orné, comme le cou, de métal décoré de motifs réguliers. Au revers, un motif losangé en moyen relief. L'ensemble, de belle facture, est à rapprocher du groupe 15 de l'étude d'Alain et Françoise Chaffin (cf. page 186 à 197). KOTA RELIQUARY FIGURE MBULU NGULU, GABON H. 25.2 in The Alphonse Kann reliquary Probable inspirer of the character of Swann imagined by Proust, whom he was a fellow at the Lycée Condorcet, referred to as the ‘Prince of collectors' according to Georges Salles, curator of the Louvre, his contemporary, Alphonse Kann is one of the major art collectors of the beginning of the 20th century. About thirty years old, he left his financier activity and only dedicate himself to his passion for art and a constitution of an eclectic and insightful collection. From an Austrian court bankers descent, evolving in a fertile Parisian intellectual world, he is keen on antiques and archeological works, Italian renaissance, 17th and 18th century paintings, and also cabinetwork and objects of art and contemporary paintings, in particular Nabis and Impressionnists. From the 1920's, he builds a relationship with the art dealer Daniel-Henri Kahnweiler to whom he becomes a usual client, and with whom he becomes passionate for cubism. He buys works from Braque, in particular L'homme à la guitar, Picasso, Gris and also Miro, Léger... He was part of the Syndicat d'entraide artistique (artistic mutual-aid union) created by the famous art dealer in the crisis years of 1933-1934, a union destined to help the artists every month, and spent time with the latter and their studio. At the same time, friendship and close collaboration are built with museum curators, to whom he often lends masterpieces kept in his house of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. He was an essential donator to the Musée du Louvre. In 1938, Kann leaves France to settle in London, in a Piccadilly house, and becomes a british citizen. When the war starts and with it, from the German invasion of France in 1940, the plundering of jewish collections. Alphonse Kann's house was emptied of its treasures, and we estimate that around 1400 works were sent to the impound of the Louvre then to the Jeu de Paume, places requisitioned as real triage stations, some of which inventoried under a number ‘Ka'. In 1947, a year before passing, almost 725 works are given back to him, in particular thanks to the precious registers kept by Rose Valland during the war years at the Jeu de Paume. A friend of the great artists of his time, an engaged key player with museum institutions, Alphonse Kann Knew how to turn an ample and passionate gaze on western art, as well as on Asian and African art, as shown by this Kota reliquary. Of a beautiful scale, this classical mbulu ngulu presents a concave face on which the eyes are hollowed out crescent moon. The tetrahedron nose continues the vertical incised chevron pattern running across the forehead, the concentric diamond-shaped mouth described below. Distribu
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