Africa, Oceania, Japan

The Africa and Japan estate from Dr. Werner Zintl - March 26, 2022 in Würzburg

Auction in Würzburg:
Saturday, 26 March 2022 — 2 pm (CET)

Please note current changes to the corona regulations.

Preview in Würzburg:
21 until 25 March  — from 10 am to 5 pm
and by appointment

African works from the art collection of Dr. Werner Zintl (1938-2020)

It took luck to place auctions between the long lockdowns over the past two years. With our upcoming auction we are counting on this again for March 26. We are pleased to announce the special catalogue for works from the Africa and Japan estate of the collector, doctor and therapist Dr. medical Werner Zintl (1938-2020).

Werner Zintl - an artist at heart, who studied medicine because the art school didn’t hold their promise, therapist by vocation, free spirit, collector. A person who worked with confrontation - both as a therapist and in art. Someone who wanted to make the whole range of life tangible for himself and others, who experimented with and wanted to show other perspectives, always changing, always in motion. A person who needed space, created space, filled rooms with his enthusiasm, which one could hardly resist. An esthete who wanted to live with beautiful things, regardless of where they came from.

His home, the “Haus am See” designed by Egon Tempel, is a "living experimental field," as the family puts it, filled with his own and purchased artworks: "life-size crocodile masks, circumcision masks, fantastical masks, giant dolls that have arms, highwaymen, a face on every corner and a story for every face. Samurai armour sitting on chests like people waiting to be donned. Under the terrace, an underground space for African art.

Yoruba, Nigeria, Ludwig Bretschneider, Collection Werner Zintl
Provenance Ludwig Bretschneider (Photo: private archive)

The sheer size must have been a challenge for any dancer of this polychrome "Epa" helmet mask from the Zintl Collection. They are called "olomoyeye" or "eyelashe", which translates as "bearer of many children", and they perform at the end of the big masked festivals.

Even the large number of 14 assistant figures is impressive. It immediately forms a loosely openwork scaffolding of figures that bears the central figure of the Maternité at its centre.

"Epa" masks with female figures, mostly depicting a mother with children, reflect the central role of women and their high social status in the continued existence of the community. The artist did not emphasize this solely through their size. Depicted seated, she is floating at the same time because her feet do not touch the ground. She wears necklaces and arm jewellery. Whether in iconography, size, elaboration or condition, it is a magnificent work by the Yoruba (Nigeria) in every respect, whose provenance points to Ludwig Bretschneider, Munich.

Idoma, Nigeria, Collection Werner Zintl
Hemba, D.R. Congo, Collection Werner Zintl

Massive, weighty, rich in contrast - all this unites the unusually large, unexpectedly heavy Idoma head sculpture, which was made from a single block. Facial features and scarification marks in black stand out effectively and with a great deal of contrast from the white coloured field of vision – a play of colours that further increases the expressiveness of the head.

A comparable object, ex Charles Benenson Collection, has been in the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven since 2006 (inv. no. 2006.51.146). Werner Zintl may already have known her when he acquired his head sculpture, ex Lance Entwistle, in 2009.


It is an iconographically very unusual singiti” ancestor figure. While female figures in a comparable sitting posture among the Luba are usually conceived with a bowl, the Hemba artist of this figure completely dispenses with it. No figure turning towards the viewer, showing, offering or presenting. But here it is quite different: She is completely introverted, both hands rest gently on her thighs, her shoulders still tense, her posture extremely dignified despite the physically demanding sitting position. With her rich scarifications she might represent a female ancestor of high social rank "singiti".

Stylistically, it can be assigned to the "Muhona - Nkuvu" style region, which Neyt classifies in his standard work "La Grande Statuaire Hemba du Zaire" (1977, p. 238). A female figure from the same workshop was auctioned off on May 12, 2007, as lot 415 at Zemanek-Münster (cf. AHDRC 0028375).

We  are presenting more than 100 art works from this collection of African and Japanese art.