A poised, naturalistic male figure sits on a stool, holding an egg in his right hand, his left hand resting on his left knee. The head is round, almost egg-shaped, with a high, sloping forehead rising from pronounced eyebrows. The eyes are almond-shped, the nost long and slender, the mouth a small straight line. The neck is long and ringed. Its surface is smooth, and carefully finished, golden brown in color, though worn or mottled in places.
Seated on a royal stool--considered the soul of the Asante people--with an egg in his hand, this figure depicts a proverb that cautions the powerful to be firm but prudent in their rule: “To be a ruler is like holding an egg in the hand; if it is pressed too hard it breaks, but if not held tightly enough it may slip and smash on the ground.” A popular motif of the Asante court, it was often used to decorate the tops of linguist staffs, which were emblems of authority used by the ruler’s spokesmen during public ceremonies. However, this particular figure--carved by the acclaimed artist Osei Bonsu--is what Bonsu himself called a “parlor piece,” that is, a genre of work commissioned by local Asante and expatriate elites to decorate their homes.
This painting shows the interior of a rustic house with a stone floor and rough rock walls. In the center foreground, a woman is crouched beside a wooden cradle. She has her arms around a sleeping baby whose face is highlighted by a ray of sunshine coming from an open window. Household items hang from the rafters and there is a spinning wheel beside her. A dog sits by an open hearth on the left. The color scheme is predominantly tones of brown, except for her red scarf, green shirt and the bluish purple of the hills seen outside the window.
This is a genre painting which shows the interior of a Scottish farmhouse in the mid-19th century. It is a realistic portrayal of farm life showing the rustic conditions of this home. The room has a stone floor with rough stone and plank walls. Many household items are painted in detail, including a spinning wheel, a wooden chair and a wooden cradle. The sheep dog is resting by the hearth.Yet John Phillip has also included a sentimental element. A mother attending to her infant is the central focus of the composition. This gentle moment of motherhood is highlighted by a ray of sunshine that streams from the open window to illuminate the sleeping baby's face. Other details such as the books, flowers and hourglass on the window sill further relate his portrayal of the humble but noble life of a Scottish Highlander.