Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information
Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Early Protoclassic Female Figure for Auction at Bonhams in November

Bonhams announce the November 11, 2010 auction of African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian Art in New York. The fall sale will feature unique and traditional works from Africa, Polynesia, Melanesia, Micronesia, Indonesia, Australia, Central and South America from as early as 1200 B.C. to the 15th Century, prior to European contact.

Highlighting the November offering is a monumental Protoclassic Chinesco female figure from ca. 100 B.C. – A.D. 250 (est. $60,000 – 80,000). Measuring approximately 25 inches, the rare ceramic boasts red-orange painted body, light buff painted head and details painted in light buff.

The highly sought after figure leans slightly forward with a natural curve to the spine and the head balanced, posed so that the gaze is directly forward. The work is a quintessential example of Chinesco (Chinese-like) style with a relatively high degree of naturalism. The subject of this sculpture appears to be serenely confident and self aware as she graces the auction catalogue’s cover.

Although this ceramic female figure has certain unique qualities, she is one of at least three sculptures that are nearly identical and were undoubtedly created by the same artist. This in itself is quite rare especially for ceramics of such antiquity. The other two figures are located in the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Fine Arts and the other is in the collection of the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City.

Also of note is a Yoruba Ceremonial Bowl with Female Figure, Nigeria, attributed to Olowe of Ise, one of the most important African artist of the twentieth century (est. $60,000-80,000). Known as an innovative and expressive artist, Olowe broke free from the canon of traditional Yoruba art. Primarily known to carve larger, architectural works such as veranda posts and doors, the artist did very few smaller sculptures, making the present work an extremely rare example.

In addition, an elegant Niue Islands club with contemporary, modern lines and handwritten notations by ethnographer, Augustin Kramer, is featured during the sale. The only Kramer object to appear at auction in recent years, the piece is expected to bring $12,000-18,000.

A strong Hawaiian section also highlights the fall auction. Works of note include a selection of early 20th century books, manuscripts and periodicals formally in the collection of noted author of Hawaiian history and culture, John Dominis Holt.

Items of note from the collection include official archaeological surveys of Hawaii and early Hawaiian Historical Society records as well as illustrated volumes on old Hawaiian wood carvings from the Forbes Caves; rare Bishop Museum Bulletins on Polynesia, Samoa and Manahiki; highly sought after Kraus Reprints from 1974 and books on Hawaiian feather work, mat and basket weaving, dating back to 1899 (estimates vary). (Please see separate press release)

Additional items of interest within the Hawaiian offering include a royal Hawaiian feathered Kahili Handle with an early “Princess Kalianiole Collection” label ($5,000 – 7,000) and a previously unknown dry point etching of early Hawaiian life, commissioned by Anna Rice Cooke, founder of the Honolulu Academy of Arts, titled Kapa Hana (est. $2,000-3,000)

Other highlights will include a Chimu Shirt of fine cotton with Brocaded Feathers dated A.D. 1000 – 1400 (est. $40,000 – 60,000); a translucent Maori Greenstone Pendant, pekapeka, New Zealand (est. $8,000 – 12,000); an Ivory Coast Guro Heddle Pulley sculpted with symbolic imagery, once used for weaving (est. $5,000 – 7,000); a shell-inlay “Sea Spirit” Finial of Karamanua, carved in the form of a standing figure with the head of a shark with an upswept tail from the Solomon Islands (est. $4,000 – 6,000) and a rare hand carved wooden Pere Trumpet from the Congo, formally in the collection of noted connoisseur William “Willy” Mestach (est. $3,000 – 5,000) as well as a strong selection of highly collectible stone Mezcala figures field-collected in the early 1960’s by noted Los Angeles archeologist Constance McCormick Fearing.

The illustrated auction catalogue is available online at . For more information about the department, please visit

Los Angeles Highlight Preview: October 29-30, Los Angeles (select works only)

New York Preview: November 6-10, 2010, New York (full catalogue)

Auction: November 11, 2010 at 1:00 pm, New York

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