African Art: a prestigious Swiss collection

Milan, Wednesday 14 October 2020


Yoruba, Ede / Oyo region (Nigeria)

Hardwood with a dark coating, residue of beige earth
H 27 cm

Figure of worship.
Female figure of worship, part of the “Ibeji” twins.She wears a necklace, and glass bead bracelets and, on her ankles, wears thickcopper rings. The glossy coating is caused by continual rubbing duringworship rituals which have left permanent traces on the wood. The tattoos engraved in the cheeks, in blocks of four plus four plus three vertical ones, are the distinctive marks of several the noble families in the Oyo community. They had adopted them by the nineteenth century.


€ 5.000 - 6.000

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- Helmut Gernsheim antique collection (Castagnola in Lugano);
- George F. Keller antique collection (Davos/New York) (G.F.K. Inventory number 194);
- Former Paolo Morigi collection (Lugano) (*);
- Former private collection (Lugano);


- Berna 1980, Musée des Beaux Arts;


Reproduced in:
- MORIGI PAOLO “Raccolta di un amatore d’arte primitiva” Magliaso, Lugano & Kunstmuseum Bern, Switzerland 1980, fig. 195, pag. 195;

- FAGG WILLIAM & PEMBERTON JOHN 3rd "Yoruba Sculpture of West Africa" New York 1982, pag. 158.;
- CORNETTE DE SAINT CYR “Arts d’Afrique et d’Ocèanie” Paris, auction on 9th March 2015;
- TOLL MAREIDI & GERT STOLL & Cooperation Ulrich Klever “IBEJI: Twin Figures of the Yoruba” Munich, Germany 1980, pag. 94;

(*) Morigi’s profile says: Ibeji figure sculpted by the artist Agobunde. Region of Ede/Oyo, Nigeria. This sculptor’s name, among the many who have sculpted Ibeji statues, is listed in by two specialists of Yoruba art called William Fagg and John Pemberton III in "Yoruba Sculpture of West Africa" New York 1982. On page 158, his name is cited in reference to the description of a Shango, a Yoruba divinatory staff.Agobunde’s craft was developed in southern Nigeria from the end of the 1800s onwards in Ede, his birth city, close to Ife, two famous towns in the ancient state of Oyo. As a sculptor, he received the greatest recognition possible from his fellow citizens. Agobunde’s name was associated with a rare divination cup from the Agéré Ifa group:a magnificent representation of a woman sat with her legs crossed, breast-feeding her child. Agobunde’s name is also cited in the description of another of his works:“Female figure with offering bowl”. Late 19th century, wood. This work belongs to the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois.


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