H: 60 cm (approx. 2’)
Estimated age: End of the 19th century or early 20th century
Provenance: Old American private collection, collection Alex Arthur, private Belgium collection
Estimate: € 250.000 – 350.000
Baule statues usually stand on a base with the legs slightly bent, the hands resting on the abdomen in a gesture of peace, and elongated necks supporting a face with typically raised scarification and bulging eyes. The coiffure is always very detailed and is usually divided into plaits.
This important statue from Ivory Coast demonstrates a great mastery of sculpture that puts forth “pure beauty” as conceived by the Baule people. It combines finesse in detail and the strength characterized by the robustness of the represented character. Its composition is fascinating: the contrast of the volume of the head, the massive neck, the enormous calves ? which today is still a criterion of beauty for the Baule ? and the great delicacy of the uninterrupted arms that end in tiny hands with tapered fingers offer a perfectly balanced achievement.
The function of the work justifies its charm. The multiplication of the scarifications that adorn the whole body and enhance the face particularly magnify the personage. The headdress is adorned with a multitude of precious animal horns, and the arm bracelets are engraved in the flesh with a honey-brown patina.
Based on the research conducted by expert Alain-Michel Boyer, this work is a spirit of nature used by the soothsayer during his practices to seduce and attract the spirit whose task is to ward off evil.
This work blends into the rare and ancient Baule statues, notably through its proportional proximity to, among others, a comparable work that was part of the collection of Paul Guillaume and published by Carl Einstein in “Negerplastik” in 1913, and which constitutes a founding act of African art.