Lot: 287

101e vente aux enchères

Figure commémorative d´une épouse royale avec enfant ("Maternité)

Cameroun Grassland, Bamiléké

Provenance Taille Prix d’appel / Prix d'Estimation
Canadian Private Collection H: 69 cm 25000 EUR
Frais supplémentaires : 27% de commission, TVA, expédition et assurance transport

wood, black pigment, rest.

The artist employed thrusting shapes and charged open spaces to create a strong asymmetrical composition, with both figures dynamically posed. As is common in Bamileke, he eschewed naturalism to create a vigorous, energetic sculpture.

A formally and stylistically very similar figure published by Raymond Lecoq, "Les Bamileke, Une Civilisation Africaine", Paris 1953, fig. 89 (AHDRC 0129538). For another from the collections of the Detroit Institute of Arts, see AHDRC 0010354.

Many chiefs and kings in the Cameroon Grasslands commissioned sculptures for their palaces that incorporate the mother and child. They usually represent royal mothers or wives of the reigning king. Notably in some kingdoms, a leader's installation rites will not be completed until one of his wives gives birth to a child. The king or chief, representing ancestors, whence comes much of his power, must be seen as potent. A child is his evidence.

Several Cameroon palaces featured maternities to commemorate royal women, some named, some not. One famous maternity was carved in Bamileke by Kwayep of Bamane to commemorate the birth of king N'Jike's first child (c. 1912) (Cole, 2017, p. 168, Fig. 138). This "maternity" is doubtless a "portrait", but rather than an imitative likeness, it is a portrait by designation, as local people knew the figure commemorated that specific wife.

Sculptured members of a courtly entourage were displayed at important events such as king's investitures, annual festivals and funerals.

Mother-and-child figures are also found on the magnificently sculptured posts and door frames of the palace houses. A 1925 photograph shows King Pokam of Baham in Bamileke, framed within his portal ensemble - an elaborate program of historical incidents rendered in a kind of episodic narrative (Cole, 2017, p. 169, fig. 139).

Raymond Lecoq, "Les Bamileke, Une Civilisation Africaine", Paris 1953, fig. 89 Cole, Herbert M., Maternity, Brussels 2017, p. 168 f.