Enwonwu's Symbol of African Pride is Top Lot at Modern & Contemporary African Art Sale

A powerful portrait of the actress, Marianne Inness, by Nigeria's most famous artist, Ben Enwonwu, sold for £555,063 at Bonhams Modern & Contemporary African Art sale in London yesterday (3 October). Estimated at £150,000-200,000, Portrait of Marianne was one of Enwonwu's most iconic paintings. The sale as a whole made a total of £2,015,635 and set two new world records at auction for the South African artist Zanele Muholi and the Congolese painter Mwila.

Bonhams Director of Modern & Contemporary African Art, Giles Peppiatt, said, "Marianne was a close friend of Ben Enwonwu – they were neighbours in London during the 1960s – but in this portrait, she is transformed by the artist into a symbol of African pride. This wonderful painting attracted spirited international bidding and the high amount of the winning bid is a reflection, not only of Marianne's dignified presence, but also of Enwonwu's enduring appeal.

Other highlights of the sale included.
Fruits of Bali by Vladimir Griegorovich Tretchikoff. One of Tretchikoff's most beloved and recognizable paintings, it had an estimate of £200,000-300,000 and sold for £250,063.
Raw Light, by Gerard Sekoto, an atmospheric depiction of Eastwood township executed before the artist's self-imposed exile to Paris. Sold for £137,563.
Negritude by Ben Enwonwu sold for £162,563 (estimate: £100,000-150,000).
Moon Madonna by the Nigerian artist Jusuf Grillo. Sold for £137,563 (estimate £60,000-90,000)


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