African Art: a prestigious Swiss collection

Milan, Wednesday 14 October 2020


Bamun, Foumban region (Cameroon)

Wood covered with colored beads
H 36 cm

Commemorative statue of an ancestor.
The sculptor of this statue belonged to the Bamun group, an Islamic tribe living in the south-western region near Foumban. Its style is very particular, as the whole wooden statue is covered by colorful glass beads, of European production. These beads were exported to Africa during expeditions in the late nineteenth century, particularly from France, Holland and Italy. Most of them came from factories in Venice, which produced them in abundance.It represents the figure of an ancestor sitting on a small stool. The statue is completely covered with multicoloured beads sewn on a rough fabric that wraps the whole work.This decorating technique was also developed in the past by the Bamileké group. These populations are based on a social system organised into chiefdoms, which are passed down from father to son. The sculptures of kings, thrones and masks are wholly decorated with glass beads in order to make them more appealing, especially the figures of prominent members of the power hierarchy and those of upper-class ancestors.


€ 4.000 - 5.000

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- George F. Keller antique collection (New York/Davos) (Inv. G.F.K. 218);
- Former Paolo Morigi collection (Lugano);
- Former private collection (Lugano);


- Berna 1980, Musée des Beaux Arts;
- Lugano 2002, Palazzo Riva, Banca Svizzera Italiana (BSI)


Reproduced in:
- MORIGI PAOLO “Raccolta di un amatore d’arte primitiva”, Magliaso, Lugano & Kunstmuseum Bern, Switzerland 1980, fig. 232, page 245;
- VENTURI LUCA M. “Anime antiche, arte negra, da una raccolta di sculture dell’Africa occidentale” BSI Bank, Lugano 2002, fig. 38;

- DELANGE JACQUELINE & LEIRIS MICHEL "Black Africa” Milan 1967, page 323, ill. 373;
- HARTER PIERRE "Arts anciens du Cameroun" Arnouville 1986;
- PERROIS LOUIS “Arts Royaux du Cameroun” Geneva 1994, page 38, fig. 32;


African Art

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