Art market Magazine December 2015

 
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Statuette with bent knees, arms crossed…
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Statuette with bent knees, arms crossed over the belly, decorated with a ring of cones attached by plant fibres, pupils highlighted with rings of shell, face covered in
orange pigment; a small structure pierced with a hole completes the sculpture. This type of statuette depicts a tribal ancestor and could have been kept in the "Men's House". Mid-20th century, wood, pigments, shell, plant fibres, 24.5 x 10 x 10 cm, 445 g, Sepik East Province, Oceania.

© Musée du quai Branly, photo: Thierry Ollivier, Michel Urtado

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IN PARTNERSHIP WITH

MUSEUM

Sepik, the art of Papua New Guinea
n numerous occasions during the 19th century, travellers journeying along the island coast of New Guinea,
north of Australia, noted how, at a precise location, a change in the sea's colour and floating bits of wood indicated the presence of an immense river, though its mouth was invisible. It was only in 1886 (the year after Germany's annexation of New Guinea) that Captain Eduard Dallman, accompanied by German naturalist Otto Finsch, located the mouth of the river later known as the Sepik. The two explorers only covered fifty of the river's one thousand kilometres, but this was enough to measure its extent and the wealth of the populations living on its banks. Dallman and Finsch named it the 'River of Empress Augusta' after Princess Augusta of Saxe-Weimer, the

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wife of the German Emperor, Wilhelm I. This expedition was the first of many. The most significant in terms of discovering and collecting objects were those carried out under the aegis of German museums. Three stand out in particular. The Hamburg expedition spent thirteen days exploring the river in May 1909. One of its members, Otto Reche, published a study in 1913 that is a standard reference work to this day. Otto Schlaginhaufen's expedition in July the same year collected pieces that are now in Dresden. And in 1912-1913, an expedition that included chemist and anthropologist Adolf Roesicke, geographer Walter Behrmann and lawyer-cum-ethnologist Richard Thurnwald was organised by Berlin's Ethnographical Museum. Many of the objects in the Musée de Quai Branly exhibition were amassed during these three historic ventures.

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Art Market Magazine December 2015
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