Description
BEMBE ANCESTOR FIGURE, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
H. 5.70 in

Provenance:
- Collection Max Pellequer, acquis dans les années 1920, Paris
- Collection privée, transmis par descendance
- Collection Béatrice et Patrick Caput, Paris

Publication:
- Patrick Caput et Valentine Plisnier, Arts d’Afrique. Portraits d’une collection, 2016, p.34-37
Nephew-in-law of André Level, the famous art dealer and collector, Max Pellequer (1883-1974) was one of the major players on the 20th-century art scene. A banker, he met Pablo Picasso in the 1920s through his uncle. The two men forged a friendship. Pellequer also became the artist’s financial advisor and one of his most prolific correspondent. Lovers of primitive art, together they lent part of their collections to the emblematic exposition organised at the Galerie Pigalle in 1930. At the time he met Picasso, Max Pellequer had already developed a sure taste and had acquired fine Egyptian and African objects, including this gem of Bembe art. Set on a fine, round base, this ancestral figure is very similar to one at the British Museum (inv. MMO 14623). The power of the face with its tight features, the dynamics of the pose – expressed here by the stylised shoulder blades and the dorsal furrow – the extreme delicacy of the modelling, the minute attention paid to the raised thumbs and the malleoli, and the beauty of the deep, nuanced patina, all place this exceptional work at the centre of the narrow corpus of the Gangala style, for which these are signature details. Highlighted in 1995 by Marc Félix in his book Art & Kongo, this style had already been identified by Raoul Lehuard as the state of perfection in Bembe art (see Bakongo, les centres de style, p.371). Five statuettes, three women and two men, were considered as part of it at the time. Except for the effigy at the British Museum (previously owned by the Museum of Mankind), they are all in private hands. Discovered in April 2015 at an auction in Vannes, France, the Pellequer statuette proves that the Gangala style, the quintessence of Bembe art, may not yet have revealed all its treasures…

lot 13

BEMBE ANCESTOR FIGURE, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
H. 5.70 in

Provenance:
- Collection Max Pellequer, acquis dans les années 1920, Paris
- Collection privée, transmis par descendance
- Collection Béatrice et Patrick Caput, Paris

Publication:
- Patrick Caput et Valentine Plisnier, Arts d’Afrique. Portraits d’une collection, 2016, p.34-37
Nephew-in-law of André Level, the famous art dealer and collector, Max Pellequer (1883-1974) was one of the major players on the 20th-century art scene. A banker, he met Pablo Picasso in the 1920s through his uncle. The two men forged a friendship. Pellequer also became the artist’s financial advisor and one of his most prolific correspondent. Lovers of primitive art, together they lent part of their collections to the emblematic exposition organised at the Galerie Pigalle in 1930. At the time he met Picasso, Max Pellequer had already developed a sure taste and had acquired fine Egyptian and African objects, including this gem of Bembe art. Set on a fine, round base, this ancestral figure is very similar to one at the British Museum (inv. MMO 14623). The power of the face with its tight features, the dynamics of the pose – expressed here by the stylised shoulder blades and the dorsal furrow – the extreme delicacy of the modelling, the minute attention paid to the raised thumbs and the malleoli, and the beauty of the deep, nuanced patina, all place this exceptional work at the centre of the narrow corpus of the Gangala style, for which these are signature details. Highlighted in 1995 by Marc Félix in his book Art & Kongo, this style had already been identified by Raoul Lehuard as the state of perfection in Bembe art (see Bakongo, les centres de style, p.371). Five statuettes, three women and two men, were considered as part of it at the time. Except for the effigy at the British Museum (previously owned by the Museum of Mankind), they are all in private hands. Discovered in April 2015 at an auction in Vannes, France, the Pellequer statuette proves that the Gangala style, the quintessence of Bembe art, may not yet have revealed all its treasures…