African Art
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
PrevNext2 of 2
Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Female Figure

19th century

Wood and brass

26 3/16 × 6 1/8 × 6 5/16 in. (66.5 × 15.5 × 16 cm)
Charles B. Benenson, B.A. 1933, Collection

Depicted in a highly abstract style, this standing female figure holds a stick with both hands, her helmetlike hairstyle accented by brass attachments. A diminutive figure is mounted on the woman’s back, framed by her jutting shoulders and buttocks. Although the relationship between the two suggests a mother carrying her child, the small figure appears to be fully grown. The sculpture may thus be understood as a celebration of women as the essential progenitors of society.

On view
19th century

Possibly Living Trust, Beverly Hills, California. Possibly Reynold C. Kerr, New York. Possibly J. J. Klejman, New York, July 9, 1980. Charles B. Benenson Collection, Greenwich, Conn;Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.


Susan Vogel and Jerry L. Thompson, Closeup: Lessons in the Art of Seeing African Sculpture from an American Collection and the Horstmann Collection, exh. cat. (New York: Museum for African Art, 1990), 130-131, fig. 56.

Bruce Museum, Three African Traditional: the Art of the Dogon, Fang and Songye, exh. cat. (Greenwich, CT: Bruce Museum, 1999), 10, fig. 8.

“Acquisitions, July 1, 2005–June 30, 2006,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2006): 222, 224, ill.

Art for Yale: Collecting for a New Century, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2007), 182, pl. 164.

Susan Vogel, Mary (Polly) Nooter Roberts, and Chris Muller, Exhibition-ism: Museums and African Art, exh. cat. (New York: Museum for African Art, 1994–95), 118, fig. 14.

Richard Barnes, “Objects of Desire,” Yale Alumni Magazine (September/October 2004): 38, ill.

Frederick John Lamp, Amanda Maples, and Laura M. Smalligan, Accumulating Histories: African Art from the Charles B. Benenson Collection at the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2012), 183, ill.

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.