Equestrian figure from Africa tops sale

The rare Rare Senufo Equestrian Figure which sold recently.
The rare Rare Senufo Equestrian Figure which sold recently at an Oceanic and Pre-Columbian Art sale.

The $US61,500 price fetched in New York by a rare equestrian figure from the Ivory Coast shows the ongoing interest in African art, auction house Bonhams says.

The equestrian figure fetched the top price at Bonham’s Oceanic and Pre-Columbian Art sale.

Bonhams said it was the most successful sale of its kind to date.

“The wide variety of interested participants, and impressive sell-through rate of the property, attest to the growing interest in this unique market,” Bonhams said.

The top three lots all hailed from the African section of the sale, which Bonhams said illustrated the lingering fascination with the visually arresting figurative imagery common in traditional African art.

The equestrian figure which topped the sale late last year stood at 61.4cm tall.

The piece, from a private New York collection, is an an exquisitely carved wooden equestrian figure with seated horseman and stylized horse.

The elongated male rider has a small head with a scooped facial plane.

He wears a small hat and has a powerful neck. An amulet for protection is worn at his chest.

Above the elbows, the rider wears carved armbands. He is seated on the saddle.

The horse’s head with its full carved face has rounded eyes, a long nose and slightly open mouth.

It legs are fused to form plank-like trapezoidal shapes.

The size of the rider over the much smaller horse is said to single out the relationship of authority between the horse and rider.

In the late 19th century, warriors on horseback were a frequent sight in Senufo villages, from where the work hailed.

Finely detailed Maori handclubs from New Zealand proved especially popular at the sale, the auction house said.

One intricate example carved by Patoromu Tamatea, dating around 1870-1880, soared past its pre-sale estimate of $US4000-$US6000, eventually bringing $US27,500 after lengthy bidding.



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