Field-photo of the day: a Songye figure

Image courtesy of Boris Kegel-Konietzko, 1959.

Image courtesy of Boris Kegel-Konietzko, 1959.

A few years ago, when I was still actively contributing to the Yale University – Van Rijn – Archive of African art, the German dealer Boris Kegel-Konietzko allowed us to include the field-photos from his travels through Songye-land in the database. The above picture, taken at Kabinda in 1959, was included in the batch. Of course, I did not hesitate to browse through the thousands of Songye figures in the archive to check if I could find this figure back. Great was my suprise, when I discovered this statue was now, in a slightly different state, in Yale’s own collection. Being part of the Benenson collection, it was donated to the Yale University Art Gallery in 2006 – without the Kegel-Konietzko provenance! Thanks to this picture of the figure at its time of collection, we now know it was originally dressed with an animal skin and partly wrapped in a cotton cloth. The attached smaller figures were also original to the figure. Both field-photo and figure are published in Frederick J. Lamp’s catalogue of the Benenson collection, Accumulating Histories (p. 149).

Songye figure. Height: 124,5 cm. Image courtesy of the  Yale University Art Gallery (#2006.51.148).

Songye figure. Height: 124,5 cm. Image courtesy of the Yale University Art Gallery (#2006.51.148). (info)