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
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.
Republic of the Congo
or geography Democratic Republic of the Congo
or geography Loango Coast, Angola
On view
19th century

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), 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.,1955

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


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.

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.

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

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

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

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.

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