Three nude women stand on a dock in front of a ship. Two of the women's faces are turned to look at the ship, while the middle woman is facing the artist. Her face is in blue. They each seem to be holding an object.
Wood-carved, standing male figure 40 inches in height. Its shoulders and torso are impaled with iron blades, nails and fragments. The torso is long, arms at side are bent at elbow and hands rest on lower abdomen. The right wrist wears a bracelet with attachments. The legs are truncated, with twisted metal anklet on right foot. The face is naturalistic, the mouth slightly open, the nose long and narrow with slightly flared nostrils. Eyes are almost shaped, may have had inlay that is now gone. The top of the head shows a tiered, "layer cake like" coiffure. The figure has a long and deep crack down the entire length of its left side, from top of the head to the left ankle.
An nkisi is a spirit personality or force with the power to harm, heal or protect. It was summoned by a medicinal specialist or nganga, who used figures such as this to materialize the nkisi, make it approachable, and activate its powers. The nkondi (meaning "hunter") was the most aggressive and feared type of nkisi, which used its clairvoyance and powers of destruction to hunt down and punish witches, criminals, and other wrong-doers. By pounding a blade or nail into its body, the nganga aroused the nkondi, and sent it on its nocturnal pursuit. The nkondi’s other job was to witness the taking of oaths and bind individuals to their word. Blades were driven into the figure to “seal” a pact or treaty that was made in its presence. Any person who failed to respect such an agreement would suffer the nkondi’s violent retribution.
A nude woman sits at the edge of a pool in a garden with a fountain visible in the foreground. Two bearded men lean on a gate next to her. The closer figure extends his left hand toward the woman, while the other points toward a town visible in the distance.
The virtuous Jewess Susanna bathes in her garden, where she is accosted by two lecherous elders. One of the men leans over a fence toward Susanna as he propositions her, while his companion points to the town visible in the background, threatening to publicly accuse her of adultery should she reject their advances.
This mosaic panel depicts flowers and tendrils against a background with both a chevron pattern and a round flower-like patten. Along either side is a tapering beige element that is half of a blade of a plant; when joined with another panel, they create a full plant blade.
This panel is one of several panels of the same design that formed a frieze in the foyer of the H.O. Havemeyer House in New York City. The geometric patterning recalls Roman and Near Eastern examples, but the serpentine patterning also roots the mosaic in the Art Nouveau style of the time.
This hour-glass shaped stool is supported by two caryatid figures who sit in a pose of lamentation—crouched with head in hands. Scarified patterned abstracted tears spill from their lower eyelids. Brass studs adorn the perimeter of the stool’s seat, base, and figures. Both figures wear strings of black, red and white beads around their necks.
Stools like this rarely come out in public. At stately events, stools have animal skins over them, concealing the iconography from view. This stool is carved by a songi or master court sculptor. The power and public secrecy of the stool is such that songi carve royal seats in seclusion away from non-initiates and women. While sculpting, professional carvers strive for minimal design or utombo, which can capture the complexities of Chokwe cultural values.
A bust-length portrait of a woman faces the viewer. Her hair is worn high on her head with curls framing her face and a bandeau high on her forehead. Her dress has a high starched collar and a scarf tied over the bodice. The drawing is muted in dark chalks with white highlighting on a brown paper.
This intimate, insightful portrait has been identified as the mother of the artist, Julien-Leopold Boilly, who would have been about 36 years old at the time the likeness was taken.