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African Art
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Vessel with Figurative Lid

early to mid-20th century

Wood from the Apocynaceae tree family

9 × 4 1/2 × 4 1/2 in. (22.86 × 11.43 × 11.43 cm)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. James M. Osborn for the Linton Collection of African Art
Carved and adorned ointment jars such as this were once used by Baule men and women as containers for shea butter, a cosmetic used for the body. Artists would have had a number of these on hand at all times, carved with precision and fine detail to advertise their skill. The serene face on the lid of this jar may demonstrate the artist’s experience in carving portrait masks.
Côte d’Ivoire
On view
20th century
Containers - Wood

George Claude Leon Underwood, London (1890–1975). J.J. Klejman Gallery, New York. Dr. Ralph Linton (1893–1953), by 1953 [see note 1]; by descent to his wife, Adelin Hohlfield Linton (1899–1977); sold to Marie-Louise Montgomery Osborn (1905–1968) and James Marshall Osborn (1906–1976), 1954; given to the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.,1959

Note 1: Ralph Linton was the Sterling Professor of Anthropology at Yale from 1946 until his death in 1953.


Ralph Linton, The Linton Collection of African Sculpture: An Exhibition, March 13 through April 18, 1954, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1954), no. 43.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.