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African Art
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Female Figure

early to mid-19th century

Wood, porcelain, pitch, and metal

9 × 3 1/2 × 2 1/2 in. (22.86 × 8.89 × 6.35 cm)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. James M. Osborn for the Linton Collection of African Art
1955.61.18
The elaborate hairstyle of this female figure identifies her as being of high social status. In her hands, she holds a drinking or medicinal horn and a bottle, possibly of imported schnapps, a further indication of her rank and wealth or of her role as a medium healer. Originally, the figure was probably wearing a cloth.
Geography: 
Loango Coast, Republic of the Congo
or Democratic Republic of the Congo
or Angola
Status: 
Not on view
Culture: 
Yombe
Period: 
19th century
Classification: 
Sculpture
Provenance: 

Dr. Paul J. Güssfeldt (1840-1920), acquired 1872, as part of the Loango Expedition; Königliches Museum für Völkerkunde (Ethnologische Abteilung Koenigliches Museum), Berlin, by 1875, until at least 1908. Dr. Ralph Linton (1893-1953), Sterling Professor of Anthropology at Yale, by1953; Mr. James Marshall Osborn (1906-1970) and Mrs. James Marshall Osborn (Marie Louise Montgomery Osborn) (1905-1968), New Haven, Conn.; donated to the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., 1955

This work appears on our "Artworks with Nazi-Era Provenance Documentation Gaps" page.
Bibliography: 

Adolf Bastian, Die deutsche Expedition an der Loango-Ku¨ste, nebst a¨lteren Nachrichten u¨ber die zu erforschenden La¨nder, II (Jena, Germany: Costenoble, 1875), endplate, context engraving: after photograph, ill.

Wilhelm Joest, Festschrift für Adolf Bastian zu seinem 70 Geburtstage (Berlin: D. Reimer, 1896), 122, fig. 1–2.

Hermann Heinrich Ploss, Das weib in der natur- und vo¨lkerkunde (Leipzig,Germany: Grieben-Verlag, 1908), 120, studio engraving: after photograph, fig. 66.

Robert Farris Thompson, Flash of the Spirit: African and Afro-American art and philosophy (New York: Random House, 1983), 125, fig. plate 74.

Sarah Adams, Call and Response: Journeys of African Art, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2000), 6–7, fig. 6.

Robert Farris Thompson, “Icons for the Brave and Generous: Kongo Art at Yale,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2005): 83–84, fig. 3–4.

Frederick John Lamp, “Hot Space, Cool Space: The Reinstallation of the African Art Collection in the Louis Kahn Building at Yale University,” African Arts 40 (Summer 2007): 51, fig. 18.

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.