Resurfaced: an object from the Saléfoué society

German private collection contains lost treasure

Baule,Côte d'Ivoire, Saléfoué

Auction in Wurzburg:
Saturday, 10 March 2018 starting at 2 pm 

Enthroned male figure from the "Treasure of the Saléfoué"
Baule, Côte d'Ivoire, before 1910

Walter Kaiser, Stuttgart, Germany
Manfred Pütz, Cologne, Germany (1974)

Published in:
African Arts, 1979, Vol. XII, no. 2, p. 88

This object is a hitherto unknown figure from the "Treasure of Saléfoué" which was in German private ownership for many decades. The "Saléfoué", a subgroup of the Baule, rebelled against the French colonial power under the leadership of Boni N'Diole. The "Treasure of Saléfoué" was finally handed over to the administrative official Joseph Cornet as a sign of submission to the French rule in 1910. The objects were subsequently scattered to the winds.

According to an article published by Maurice Ratton in 1960 (La Vitrine, no. 2, pp. 4-7), this "treasure" once comprised of thirteen figures, all representations of dignitaries of the "Saléfoué" Society.

One of the figures, a bearded dignitary, was published in 1973 by Schädler (African Art in German Private Collections, ill. 123) and is now in the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum.

The facial features of both figures, including the scarifications and the composition of hairstyle and beard, the shape of the body and posture, as well as the shortened arms and fine ornamental design of the base are similar and allows one to come to the conclusion that both figures come from the same carver, or the same workshop.


Photo: N.N. (left) / H.J. Lehman (right)


Press review:
Kunst und Auktionen 03/2018