PROVENANCE: Historical Figures In Oceanic Art
Historical Figures In Oceanic Art
Early in 1886, Theodore Bevan, a 25-year-old Londoner of Welsh descent lay in his Port Moresby bed racked with the ‘fever-and ague fiend’ (most likely malaria). He had been busy trading for bech-de mer and incidentally collecting ‘curios’ along the Papuan coast, west and east of Port Moresby, for some six months in his cutter Electra, this being his third visit to British New Guinea. He had just sent 1440 of these ‘curios’ to the Colonial and Indian Exhibition in London. Lack of fresh food and...read more.
In the so-called “primitive art” world, Émile Bouchard was a completely out of the ordinary figure and was in no way predestined to become a collector. He received his training far from the world of the initiates so no prejudices could interfere with the revelations that each new find could bring him. It was in this way that, as fortuitous opportunities arose, he acquired an exceptional ensemble of works from the Marquesas Islands and Papua New Guinea as well as a superb collection of clubs, and important Indonesian pieces and Tibetan bronzes. Émile Bouchard, a candy...read more.
Patrick O’Reilly was a native of the town Saint-Mihiel in northeastern France. As his name suggests, he was of Irish descent (Farell O'Reilly of Cork had emigrated to Le Havre in 1771). He arrived in Paris in 1918 to study at the Sorbonne and entered the Marist novitiate at La Neylière, near Lyon, in 1922. After being ordained to the priesthood in 1928, he became chaplain to the students of Paris (1930-1975). Concurrently with the fulfillment of his religious mission, O'Reilly received training in the field of ethnology and, as a student of the anthropologist...read more.
Ferdinand Hefele (1876-1953) served as the First Officer on the Peiho, the steamer that took the Hamburg South Sea Expedition (1908-1910) to the colony of German New Guinea. During the first year of this famous journey, Hefele clandestinely collected close to 500 artifacts. Ultimately, the ship officer donated the objects to...read more.
Morris Pinto was a man with a profound sense of curiosity and a desire to discover and learn as much as he could about whatever interested him. He did not grow up with parents who collected, but as a young man he found himself drawn to art and discovered that certain sculptures and paintings could produce an instinctual and emotional reaction. His path as a collector began with paintings; his first acquisition of note was a...read more.
Anyone with an interest in the history of “Art Nègre” (to use the term that was in vogue between the wars) has likely heard the name of Charles Ratton. And yet, while it frequently appears mentioned as that of the consultant and expert in sale catalogs, or cited as the author of multiple publications, and often listed as part of an object’s provenance, the man himself remains little-known. He was extremely discreet, or even downright secretive, about his life and activities. He was associated with...read more.
Self-taught ornithologist, ethnologist, writer, collector, curator and then museum director and pioneer of German colonial expansion, Otto Finsch was born in the spa town of Bad Warmbrunn, then part of the Prussian province of Silesia (now Cieplice Śląskie-Zdrój in southwest Poland). Finsch began to sketch the local flora and fauna and the landscapes around him at an early age, showing precocious signs of his talent as a draftsman and of what would become his...read more.
The name Roy James Hedlund (1939–2020) has become synonymous with collections of sculpture from Papua New Guinea assembled in the mid-twentieth century. New Guinea, New Britain, New Ireland, and Tabar are among the places we know he visited in the early 1960s.Hedlund attended Punahou School, the University of Hawai’i, Honolulu and the California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland, California. As a young man, he met L. R. Webb who managed a theater in Honolulu and who also...read more.
Madeleine Rousseau was an influential figure on the Parisian art scene from the 1940s through the end of the 1960s. Born into a petit bourgeois family in Troyes, she grew up in an environment that was open to art. In 1913, she went to Paris for her higher education, but she soon abandoned this pursuit to devote herself to painting, which she had practiced since childhood. She enrolled at the École du Louvre in 1931. After graduating from there, she...read more.
Franz Kirschbaum (1882-1939) was a missionary of the Catholic Order from the Society of the Divine Word (Societas Verbi Divini, SVD) who arrived in German New Guinea in 1907. He would stay in the region until his death due to a plane crash in 1939. Trained in anthropology and linguistics, Kirschbaum was an avid collector of ethnographic objects. For instance, the Vatican Ethnographic Museum (Anima Mundi) holds approximately...read more.
Gaston de Havenon was both a dealer and collector that, while specializing in African art, also collected some masterpieces of Oceanic art—such as the world-record-setting Solomon Islands nguzu nguzu canoe prow that sold at Sotheby’s Paris on 15 June 2011 for 1,520,750 Euros. Born in Tunis, de Havenon emigrated to the United States at the age of 25 and soon went into the perfume business, ultimately founding the Anne Haviland Company, importers of...read more.
During an active career that lasted over six decades, French created in many mediums with work, usually series, that was nearly always about the perilous nature of the human condition. As a symbolist painter, French established an iconography of circles, hands, fish serpents, vines, Romanesque arches, oblongs, darts, waves and many others. He became a master at...read more.
Augustus Henry Lane Fox was born in 1827. As the second son of a country gentleman who enjoyed racing and hunting, and who was himself a second son, he was not rich, and his prospects were not promising. His father died when Augustus (or Fox as he was generally called) was only five, leaving the estate to his elder brother. His mother later moved to London, taking the thirteen-year-old Fox with her. In 1841 he...read more.
Mörner would collect 1,400 artifacts, mainly from the Bismarck Archipelago and the Ramu Sepik rivers, for Swedish museums. It would become the last great ethnographic collection to leave the German colony before the outbreak of hostilities. Mörner studied at the universites in Uppsala and Lund. In 1893, he graduated with a law degree. He opted for a career as a civil servant, and by 1899 he joined the Swedish-Norwegian Consulate General in Helsinki, then still part of Russia. A year later, he transferred to...read more.
Martin Voigt (1878–1952) decided at the age of 24 to accept the well-paid position of chief postmaster for the colony of Deutsch-Neuguinea. Before that, he had completed his compulsory service in the army. At the beginning of August 1902, he set out from Berlin on the long journey to...read more.
Of all the celebrities and personalities Andy Warhol chose to memorialize in his iconic silkscreen portraits, it would be hard to find one as discreet and reclusive as the collector Carlo Monzino. He is perhaps best known in the tribal art world for his coup as a 32-year-old for buying the bulk of the Jacob Epstein African and Oceanic Art Collection out from under the British Museum in 1965. With this auspicious start, Monzino continued to...read more.
Heinrich Rudolph (also Rudolf) Wahlen (1873-1970) became a prominent businessman in German New Guinea. Shortly before the First World War, he purchased “Queen” Emma Kolbe’s E. E. Forsayth Company. He also collected several thousand artifacts, which he supplied to German but primarily Swedish museums in return for consular titles and medals. Born in 1873 near Hamburg, Wahlen decided early on in his life to become a businessman in the newly acquired German colonies. In 1895, he arrived in German New Guinea to take on...read more.
Bruno Mencke (1876/77-1901) was a somewhat tragicomic figure associated with the First German South Sea Expedition to German New Guinea. His death on Mussau Island in the St. Matthias group cut the elaborate venture short and presented a significant challenge for the new German colonial administration. Nevertheless, a sizable ethnographic estate of well over 1,000 ethnographic artifacts supported the collections located in...read more.
Born in Béthune in the north of France in 1885, Stephen Chauvet was an outstanding student before becoming a doctor of medicine. He took part in the First World War and was wounded. Shortly after, through a present of an African statuette, he discovered the extra-European arts of which he quickly became one of the principal exponents in France and he thus began collecting objects pertaining to “l’Art Negre” (indigenous art). About 1920 in Nice, he was lucky to...read more.
The J. F. G Umlauff Company spanned over a century and supplied museums worldwide with ethnographic objects. It exploited colonial connections to obtain and trade artifacts from German New Guinea and Samoa. Ethnographers generally looked down upon what they considered a commercial endeavor, but they frequently enlisted Umlauff's assistance to obtain expensive collections and secure artifacts from ethnographic hotspots. The company's founder Johann Friedrich Gustav Umlauff (1833-1889) spent...read more.
Arthur Baessler (1857-1907) was a German traveler and ethnographic collector who chiefly supported the ethnographic museums in Berlin, Dresden, and Stuttgart in return for numerous decorations and titles. His collection activity mainly focused on the Pacific and South America. He published two popular travelogues about his Pacific voyages. Towards the end of his life, Baessler endowed a foundation to support ethnographic studies in the Pacific. By 1910...read more.
Otto Schlaginhaufen (1879-1973) was a Swiss physical anthropologist and ethnographer, who became a well-known eugenicist. He traveled to German New Guinea as a member of the German Naval Expedition (1907-1909). At the conclusion of the venture, he remained in the colony collecting ethnographica and human remains for...read more.
Otto Carl Reche (1879-1966) was a controversial German physical anthropologist whose racist outlooks and close support of the Nazi regime often clouded his contributions to Pacific anthropology. Nevertheless, as a participant in the first year of the Hamburg South Sea Expedition (1908-1909), Reche would author two monographs related to the venture. His 1913 volume on the Sepik River suggested a division of the region into four stylistic provinces that, while questioned, still finds...read more.
Rainer F. Buschmann
Maximilian (Max) Franz Thiel was born in Munich on January 12th 1865. His mother Rosette Albertine Thiel was a sister of Eduard and Franz Hernsheim, who established the Hernsheim Company in 1875. The Hernsheim Company initially sought to benefit from the copra trade in the Islands of Micronesia, but soon expanded into the Bismarck Archipelago. By the late 1870s, Eduard established a station on the Island of Matupit located in...read more.
For the past decade I have been lucky enough to have the privilege of friendship with George Craig. Craig’s name is associated with excellent pieces of Oceanic art found in museums across Europe and America, private collections the world over and, of course, in this present exhibition. But what does any collector or institution really know about the field collector George Craig? Craig is a living piece of the Australian cultural landscape: a world-renowned crocodile hunter and...read more.
Motivated by a desire to study other cultures before they were irretrievably changed, in her mid-20s Lynda Cunningham decided to take a job with American Airlines – which enabled her to travel cheaply – and set out for Papua New Guinea. The first trip in 1966 crystalized Lynda’s passion for the art and people of New Guinea and Oceania, and many other trips followed over the next 25 years. For Lynda it was crucial to try to relate to and understand the cultures of the people from whom she...read more.
A surprisingly strong collection of Markham Valley and Huon Gulf art was collected Frederick Edward Pietz (1896–1975), the first American missionary to work in New Guinea. The majority of this collection is held at the Papua New Guinea Mission Museum in Fritschel Hall of the Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa. The origin of this collection lies in the colonial history of New Guinea. The German Lutheran Neuendettelsau Mission established itself in Deutsch-Neuguinea (German New Guinea) in 1886 and operated until the outbreak of the First World War, when the German protectorate was taken over and controlled by...read more.
Adolf Ferdinand Roesicke (1881-1919) is best remembered for his participation in the extensive Sepik River Expedition that explored this critical cultural area a few years before the outbreak of the First World War. Unfortunately, this conflict and Roesicke’s early death prevented a detailed examination of the ethnographic results from this venture until recently. Roesicke hailed from Berlin, where his father, Richard Roesicke, was a prominent politician and brewery director. He studied widely and at many prominent German universities until settling on the natural sciences. In early 1909, Roesicke obtained...read more.
Richard Thurnwald (1869-1954) was a celebrated anthropologist and sociologist. He gathered significant field experiences in German New Guinea, where he went on his own (1906-1909) and as part of the Sepik Expedition (1913-1915). Given the sizeable biographical body of literature available in English and German, this Provenance entry will emphasize his two journeys to the Pacific colony...read more.
In the 1950–1960s, Ernest Thomas Gilliard (1912–1965) and his wife, Margaret, an artist, made several expeditions to different regions of Papua New Guinea and also New Britain. “Tom” Gilliard was a curator at the American Museum of Natural History, New York. His extensive scientific work was published by the museum, and his legacy continues posthumously through...read more.
Karl Nauer (1874-1962) was a prominent member of the colonial community in German New Guinea. He exported well over 3,000 artifacts from the Pacific while serving at the helm of the coastal steamer Sumatra. Nauer is probably the only German whose Pacific collection served as the foundation of a new museum, opened in 2009, dedicated to Oceania in his native Oberg��nzburg. Nauer, a Bavarian native, developed a passion for oceanic...read more.
Richard Parkinson (1844–1909) and his wife Phebe (aka. Phoebe 1863–1944) were among the most prolific ethnographic collectors in German New Guinea. The Parkinson family collected well over 10,000 artifacts and Richard Parkinson would pen important ethnographic books, the most prominent of them, Thirty Years in the South Seas, was...read more.
Hermann Voogdt was a prominent ship captain and ethnographica collector in German New Guinea who stood at the helm of the Senta and Siar, two vital recruiting vessels for the New Guinea Company. Voogdt was a native of Papenburg, a northern German city located along the river Ems with a rich shipbuilding tradition. It is not clear when...read more.
Franz Boluminski (1863-1913) was a colonial district official stationed in Kavieng, northern New Ireland. Born near Grudziadz (Graudenz) in today's Poland, then Prussia, Boluminski joined the colonial army in German East Africa at a young age. In the 1890s, he signed up with the New Guinea Company and worked for its subsidiary venture, the Astrolabe Bay Company, while stationed at Erima Harbor near Madang. When the German state took over...read more.
Frank Burnett was a wealthy gentleman from Vancouver, British Columbia, who made numerous collecting trips to the South Pacific from 1901 until his death in 1930. He amassed an enormous collection of artifacts, with over 1,200 being donated in 1927 to the University of British Columbia, which later became the founding collection for...read more.
Axel Bojsen-Møller was born on August 30.1888 in Gødvad vicarage near Silkeborg. From an early age he was attracted to nature and not interested in following the family tradition of studying theology. Initially he worked as a farmer and later on he graduated with a degree in agriculture and in 1921 he bought a failing agricultural college, Vejlby Landbrugsskole, near Aarhus. Axel Bojsen-Møller was a man of ideas – dynamic and innovative – and after studing...read more.
Albert Hahl (1868-1945) was a German colonial officer and the second governor of German New Guinea (1902-1914) who originally hailed from Bavaria. After a studying economics and law, he joined the German colonial service in 1895. Between 1896 and 1898, Hahl was stationed in the Bismarck Archipelago as Imperial Judge and served in several other functions throughout the colony. In 1899, he became...read more.
Wilhelm Carl Friedrich Wostrack (1870-1919) was a German colonial officer stationed in central New Ireland. He collected artifacts mostly for the Linden Museum in Stuttgart, donating close to 200 pieces to that institution. Wostrack was a Saxon native who had arrived in German New Guinea in the 1890s to work for the New Guinea Company. His training as a medic was very much in demand and in April of 1904, he was called upon by...read more.
High up the stony slopes of the Greek island of Thassos off the coast of Eastern Macedonia is the small village of Kazaviti. There, inside a mid-19th-century stone house, locked in a small suitcase, carefully wrapped in cloth, are the relics of the Papuan Gulf village of Tovei on Urama Island. Among the dark chunks of wood is part of an extinct type of solid drum, a fragment from the first...read more.
The great collections of New Guinea art were made mostly in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. However, acquisitions of traditional art in New Guinea by museums, dealers and private collectors continued throughout the twentieth century. From 1969 to 2005, while living in Sydney, I collected art from the Massim region, which coincides roughly with...read more.
Marie Ange Saulnier-Ciolkowska was an inspiration to those who met her and her apartment on 26 rue Jacob a treasure house. Born in 1898 she married in 1924 the painter and art critic Henri Saulnier Ciolkowska who was an enthusiastic browser of antique shops. In one he met a missionary and through him acquired objects from...read more.
Richard Vahsel (1868-1912) was a German ship captain hailing from the city of Hannover. After prolonged service with the Hamburg America Line (HAL), Vahsel joined the First German Antarctic Expedition (1901-1903) as second officer. Returning to HAL service following the expedition, Vahsel agreed to captain the steamer Peiho, named after...read more.
Rudolf von Bennigsen (1859-1912) was the first official governor of German New Guinea (1899-1901) following the German state takeover of the colony from the New Guinea Company. He hailed from lower Saxonian nobility and studied law in Strasbourg. Following his studies, he worked in...read more.
For most in the Oceanic art world the name Peter Hallinan is most recognized from the single owner sale of his collection by Sotheby’s London on December 7th, 1992. But the Peter I knew was a self-effacing, modest bloke, who pursued both solitude and privacy with passion throughout his 77 years. John (Peter) Hallinan, the scholarly, eccentric American-who came to Australia...read more.
A number of superb Sepik and New Britain art objects were collected by the Swedish Consul to New Guinea Ragnar Lindahl in the 1920s when he owned and operated a copra plantation on the northwest coast of the Gazelle Peninsula aptly named Stockholm. Lindahl’s quest for adventure started early...read more.
Lyle Scholz (1933–2013) was a pioneering American linguist and missionary who took a ship across the Pacific in 1962 to spend his career living with and studying the Kalam people of the Simbai area deep in Papua New Guinea’s Schrader Mountain Range. Born on a farm in Nebraska, Scholz attended Columbia University before...read more.
Australian Bruce Lawes (1926���2011) was one of earliest field collectors in Papua New Guinea and was dedicated to collecting artifacts for their aesthetics. Lawes arrived in New Guinea in 1947 and worked as a patrol officer in New Ireland. Less than a decade later he left administrative life, moved to the Abelam area and lived as a trader based in...read more.
Anthony Forge is well regarded for his pioneering work in visual anthropology and his outstanding collector’s eye. When Forge initially set off to study the Abelam of New Guinea as a young anthropologist, it was almost unheard of to make art the central focus of a fieldwork study...read more
Rainer F. Buschmann
In February of 1907 a letter from the German Colonial Division within the Foreign Office arrived in Ober-Langenbielau, a town now called Bielawa in Poland, then part of the Prussian state. Its recipient was a Paul Barschdorff, a locally respected teacher, who had applied for service in the German colonies. Since he was deemed suitable to work in a tropical climate, the Colonial Office ordered Barschdorff to German New Guinea to take on the headmaster position at the new indigenous school located at Namanula near Rabaul...read more.
Philip Goldman was a well-known London-based collector and later dealer in tribal art. Between 1957 and 1969 Goldman made several trips to New Guinea collecting some great objects from the Karawari, Hunstein and Telefomin regions. In 1960 he opened Gallery 43 in London...read more.
For anyone with more than a passing interest in New Guinea art, it does not take long to come across the name of Dr. George Kennedy. Normally it is in an exhibition catalog listing the provenance for some old and significant figurative sculpture from the Abelam or Karawari River areas. Kennedy was a prominent geophysicist from the University of California at Los Angeles who made a number of collecting trips to New Guinea...read more.