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A Wongo Anthropomorphic Cup
Probably Wongo, the Democratic Republic of Congo
Late 19th Century
This anthropomorphic drinking cup transcends mere functionality with the dynamic angular masculine pose of the figure supporting the intense expression of the face. Although this type of anthropomorphic cup is rare, these aspects of the sculpture are typical of the Wongo whose carving tends to be rougher and more angular and contrasts strongly with the naturalism of their neighbours the Pende and Lele.
Height 20 cm (8 in)
Collected by Emile Lejeune between 1906 and 1914
Passed to his nephew Boris de Starosvietsky, Brussels
Thence by descent
Emile Lejeune was born in Liege in 1883 and went to the Congo in 1905 with the Compagnie du Kasai which had been founded by King Leopold II in 1901 to extract and sell raw materials found in the Kasai basin; in particular ivory, rubber and cobalt. Lejeune travelled widely on company expeditions and recognising the artistic worth of works by the Kuba, Lele, Wongo and Pende, shipped many sculptures back to Belgium over almost a decade.
10 Peoples of Zaire and their Sculpture by Marc L Felix, Brussels 1987
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