• Art Africain : Collection d'un auction at Christies

    Sale 5596

    Art Africain : Collection d'un Amateur

    4 December 2009, Paris

  • Lot 140

    MAGNIFIQUE MASQUE SONGYE KIFWEBE

    RÉPUBLIQUE DÉMOCRATIQUE DU CONGO

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    MAGNIFIQUE MASQUE SONGYE KIFWEBE
    République Démocratique du Congo
    Le visage avec une bouche proéminente, un nez triangulaire avec l'arête laissée lisse, les grands yeux ovales, le tout sous un haut front bombé portant une division verticale. Restes de pigments rouge et blanc, le pourtour percé pour attachement.
    Hauteur: 56 cm. (22 in.)


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    Ce superbe masque, finement stri et peint, accentuant ainsi la gomtrie des formes convexes et concaves, est sans aucun doute un des plus beaux connus ce jour et certainement le plus raffin tre prsent en vente aux enchres depuis des dizaines d'annes. e à la fin du XIXe siècle. Le Le mot " kifwebe " signifie simplement " masque " pour les Songye, mme si pendant longtemps les collectionneurs, les marchands et les universitaires l'ont utilis pour se rfrer ce type de masque. Il semblerait que le culte de ces masques ait dbut la fin du XIXe sicle. Le premier tre entr dans une collection europenne fut donn par Livin Vandevelde sa sur Madame Stroobant en 1885 (Voir Herreman, F. et Petrides, C. (ed.), Face of the Spirits. Masks from the Zaire Basin, Gand, 1993, n.68 et p.252). Le muse Fr Volkerkunde Munich acquis son premier masque sillon associ au " kifwebe " en 1905 et Tervuren en 1910. Frobenius fut le premier citer le mot "kifebbe" dans ses notes de terrain de 1905-1906 et en 1914, Tervuren acquis des photos de danseurs portant ces fameux masques blanc oblongues qui taient connus comme provenant de l'est du territoire Songye. D'aprs Dunja Hersak, le masque kifwebe tait "un instrument social puissant li la gurison et la transformation " " (op.cit., p.148). Au moment o Dunja Hersak et d'autres personnes ont pu se rendre sur place au dbut des annes 1970, le masque et sa fonction avait considrablement chang, donc une interprtation claire de notre masque pourrait n'tre jamais possible.
    Ce masque peut tre compar celui de l'University Museum de Philadelphie achet par le marchand parisien, Charles Vignier, en 1921 (Warwell, A., African Sculpture from the University Museum of Pennsylvania, Philadelphie, 1986, p.123, no. 58) et un autre masque ancien et raffin prsentant le mme traitement du nez et vendu par Sotheby's Londres en juin 1981, lot 210.

    Special Notice

    " f " : In addition to the regular Buyer’s premium, a commission of 7% (i.e. 7.49% inclusive of VAT for books, 8.372% inclusive of VAT for the other lots) of the hammer price will be charged to the buyer. It will be refunded to the Buyer upon proof of export of the lot outside the European Union within the legal time limit.(Please refer to section VAT refunds)


    Provenance

    Christian Duponcheel, Pietrebais, vers 1980
    Jack Naiman, New York
    Pace Primitive, New York


    Literature

    Kerchache, J. et al, Art of Africa, Paris, 1989, couverture intérieure, n. 5
    W. Rubin ed., "Primitivism" and 20th Century Art, Volume I, New York, 1984, p.343
    Ogawa, H., Power of Form, Tokyo, 1999, p.115, n.155


    Post Lot Text

    MAGNIFICENT SONGYE KIFWEBE MASK

    This superb Songye kifwebe mask with its finely grooved and painted surface accentuating the bold geometry of convex and concave forms is undoubtedly one of the finest known and certainly the finest to appear at auction for many decades.
    The term "kifwebe" simply means "mask" to the Songye although it has long been used to refer exclusively to this type of mask by collectors, dealers and academics. The cult which uses such masks would appear to have started in the late 19th century. The earliest example to have entered a European collection was the mask given by Livin Vandevelde to her sister Madame Stroobant in 1885 (see Herreman, F. and Petrides, C. (ed.), Face of the Spirits. Masks from the Zaire Basin, Ghent, 1993, no.68. and p.252). The Museum für Völkerkunde in Munich acquired their first mask with the striations associated with kifwebe in 1905 and Tervuren in 1910. Frobenius was the first to record the name "kifebbe" in his field notes of 1905/6 and in 1914 Tervuren acquired photographs of dancers wearing the familiar white oblong masks which were recorded as coming from the Eastern Songye region. As to their use and function early reports and subsequent field research have led Dunja Hersak to conclude that the kifwebe mask was "a powerful social instrument probably associated with healing and ritualized forms of mystical and transformational control" (op.cit., p.148). By the time Dunja Hersak and others did their fieldwork in the early 1970s the mask and its function had undergone substantial changes in form, context and meaning, so a clear interpretation of our early and fine example may never be possible.
    The present mask can perhaps be most closely compared with the mask in the University Museum in Philadelphia purchased from the Paris dealer, Charles Vignier, in 1921 (Wardwell, A., African Sculpture from the University Museum University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 1986, p.123, no.58) and another fine old mask with similar treatment of the nose sold by Sotheby's London in June 1981, lot 210.