Sunday - 23 November 2014

Congo figure adds up to £44,000

19 February 2014Written by Roland Arkell

The first stand-alone tribal art sale held by Woolley & Wallis in Salisbury was topped at £44,000 by this 19th or early 20th century Yombe seated figure from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Figures such as this were carved to remember important figures in Kongo culture - their status shown by filed teeth, geometric carved coiffures and clear glass covering of the eyes.

The posture assumed by this richly-patinated 12in (30cm) high figure is known as the funda nkata, a gesture thought to indicate sadness for people left behind or the thoughtful contemplation admired in a tribal chief. The continuous cycle of life is signified by the crossed legs of the sitter, the feet here now missing.

Part of the appeal of the figure which was offered on February 11 was the provenance it shared with 36 lots sold by W&W in January 2013. It had been acquired in the mid 1960s by Ernst Ohly, owner of the Berkeley Gallery in Mayfair until its closure in 1977.

Choice pieces from his collection were sold by Christie's in Paris after he died four years ago.

Despite its obvious condition issues, it sold to the Belgium trade well above the estimate of £4000-6000.

The buyer's premium was 22%.

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