Today at Sothebys
Paris, the Monumental Sculpture, Fang Mabea, Cameroon, formerly owned by Félix Fénéon & Jacques Kerchache was sold for 4.353.500 ($5.914.099) above the high estimate of 3.5 million.
Ever since it was discovered by members of the Avant-Garde at the start of the 20th century, Fang statuary has been considered the apex of African sculpture. On the eve of the First World War, however, these pieces remained very rare, and even today fewer than ten works are known from the Fang Mabea (Cameroon): the most rarefied corpus of Fang statuary. It was the most important of these works and the only one still in private hands .
This spectacular figure (2ft3in/67cm tall), hovering between realistic detail and idealized shape, constitutes the apotheosis of the style. For Louis Perrois it may evoke a female ancestor venerated for her abundant offspring, and it ranks as a masterful archetypal piece of African statuary. The refinement of the carving, and the perfectly smooth surfaces of the dense, light wood, both point to ancient tradition.
Acquired in 1972 by Jacques Kerchache, who made it one of the icons of his collection, the Fang Mabea figure, formerly in the Félix Fénéon Collection, brought these two men together for nearly a century in a common manifesto: the recognition of masterpieces of African art within the Universal History of Art.