Human Head

ca. 900–300 B.C.E.

African Art

On view, 1st floor, African Art



8 1/4 × 6 1/2 × 5 3/4 in. (20.96 × 16.51 × 14.61 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of SusAnna and Joel B. Grae

Accession Number





4th–10th century B.C.


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 records is ongoing.



Reportedly private collection, United States; possibly sold to Wayne E. Cancro, New Jersey, 1981; sold to SusAnna Grae and Joel B. Grae, New York and Peekskill, New York, by June 11, 2004; given to the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., 2010


Correspondence provided by the donors suggests that around seventy ancient terracotta and stone statues from Africa, including from Nok, Nigeria, were purchased from Wayne Cancro (typed letter from Wayne Cancro to Joel Grae, June 11, 2004, copy in curatorial file), and that they had been purchased by Cancro from a private collector in the United States in 1981. Additional correspondence provided by the donors suggests that the collector was civil rights activist, Bayard Rustin (life dates), and that the purchase included 19 Nok terracotta statues. (typed letter from Wayne Cancro to Joel B. Grae, July 12, 2004, copy in curatorial file).

Continued research on Nok figures from the Grae Collection and on the life and collection of Bayard Rustin has been unable to corroborate this ownership history. Continued research on Nok figures from the Grae Collection, which number thirty-four in total, has also been unable to confirm which nineteen were said to have been acquired at that time.
This work appears on our "Antiquities and Archaeological Material with Provenance Documentation Gaps" page.
  • SusAnna Grae, "The Joy and Beauty of Philanthropy," The Good Life (2011), 10, ill
  • "Acquisitions," Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin: Online Supplement (accessed 2012), 3
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