A Bakongo maternity figure
Lot 2206
A Bakongo maternity figure
Sold for US$ 132,000 inc. premium
Auction Details
A Bakongo maternity figure A Bakongo maternity figure A Bakongo maternity figure
Lot Details
A superb Bakongo maternity figure, Yombe subgroup
Democratic Republic of Congo, beautifully carved, depicting the seated mother with characteristic accoutrement of wealth and prestige. Raised scarification to body. The child, similarly attired, laying across her lap, with one hand to her breast. Remains of burnishing; lustrous surface.
height 8 1/2in


  • Provenance:
    Purchased in 1948 from a colonial collection by the famous film director Andrew Marton, while on location in the Belgian Congo filming the 1950 American classic King Solomon’s Mines. Marton received many awards throughout his long career, and was nominated for an Academy Award for his direction of the chariot scene in the classic Ben Hur. The three objects from Marton’s personal collection appearing in this sale (the present lot and lots 2262 and 2263) have never been exhibited or published, and remained with the family as “exotic” keepsakes until the present.

    Lehuard identifies the sub-style that this maternity figure clearly fits into as J2 (Boma-Vonde). Of the four examples illustrated (Lehuard 1989; volume II), this example appears to be by the same hand, if not workshop, as an example formerly in the collection of Hubert Goldet, and another sold by Pace Gallery. The lack of inlay to the eyes relates the piece to an example illustrated by Lehuard in the collection of Marion and Daniel Malcolm.

    Such Bakongo maternity figures are among the most sought after objects of Central African sculpture. The Marton example appears to be a rediscovered masterpiece that fits as the fifth known of this rare and magnificent sub-type.