African Art
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Reliquary Head

late 19th–early 20th century

Wood and oil

16 5/16 x 6 3/4 x 5 11/16 in. (41.5 x 17.2 x 14.5 cm)
Katharine Ordway Collection
1980.13.23
This reliquary head formerly belonged to Katharine Ordway, heiress to the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company and renowned art collector and philanthropist. Her collection of modern art, some of which can be seen on the third floor of the museum, also included non-European works, to show their influences upon the European artists. The Fang reliquary head was one of the masterworks in Ordway’s possession. The formal appearance of such head sculptures held an enormous appeal for European modernist artists, who referenced them in a number of works. Together with Kota reliquaries, these sculptures continue to rank among the highest-priced works of African art today.
Culture: 
Fang
Period: 
19th–20th century
Classification: 
Sculpture
Geography: 
Made in Gabon
Status: 
On view
Provenance: 

Katherine Ordway Collection, gifted to Yale University Art Gallery, 1980

Bibliography: 

Lesley K. Baier, The Katharine Ordway Collection, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1983), 123, no. 117.

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.