In the Arctic…


Yup’ik child’s parka (Inuit)

Seal gut, sealskin, fur and red and natural fibers
19th century
Height: 20 in. (51 cm)
Width: 26 ¼ in. (67 cm)

Collected at Gambell Village, St Lawrence Island.
Ex collection The Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, Ohio, inventory number 80.0.24.
Ex Cowan’s Auction Inc., Cincinnati, American Indian and Western Art, March 31, 2007, lot 42.
Ex private collection, Canada.

Eskimo in Rain Suit
Photograph by the Lomen Brothers
Nome, Alaska
Circa 1900
Vintage gelatin silver print
Height: 12 cm (4 ¾ in.) / Width: 7 cm (2 ¾ in.)

Inuit snow goggles

Carved wood
19th century
Length: 6 in. (15 cm)

Ex collection Trotta Bono, New York
Ex private European collection


Yup’ik shaman mask (Eskimo)
Kuskokwim Valley, Southern Alaska

Carved wood and pigments
Second half of 19th century
Height: 6 in. (15.5 cm)

Ex collection Charles Miles, Accession number in white ink: 5740
Ex collection Gary Spratt, California
Ex collection Merton Simpson, New York
Ex collection George Terasaki / Trotta-Bono, New York
Ex collection Fred Boschan, USA

Illustrated in:
Indian and Eskimo Artifacts of North America, Miles Charles, Bonanza Books, New York, 1963, p.150, fig.# 6.28.

Yup’ik finger masks (Eskimo)
Kuskokwim delta, Alaska

Wood, caribou fur, pigments
Early 20th century
Height : 5 ¼ in. (13 cm)

Collected by Rev. Augustus Martin in Kwigillingok, Alaska circa 1926-1935
Ex Jeffrey Myers, New York, acquired in 2005
Ex private collection, Europe

Yup’ik shamanic mask (Eskimo)
Sculpin inua (spirit) mask
Lower Yukon, Alaska

Carved wood
19th century
Height: 20 in.(51 cm)

Ex collection Basha & Perry Lewis, New York, acquired in the 1990s
Ex collection Jeffrey R. Myers, New York
Ex collection Pinchas Mendelson, New York, since 2002

The Subarctic region inhabited by the Yup’ik is well supplied with land and sea resources allowing for much time that could be devoted to a full ceremonial life. After freeze-up in the winter, performance cycles were undertaken that were important to maintaining proper human, animal, and spirit-world interactions. Performed inside the qasgiq (communal men’s house) during festivals, dances feature face and finger masks that make visible the world of helping spirits and extraordinary beings, and are specially made to tell particular stories. Often used by shamans to facilitate communication and movement between worlds (human and animal, the living and the dead), Yup’ik masks usually were discarded after use.

Reading tips

The living tradition of Yup’ik masks
Ann Fienup-Riordan

Archaic Eskimo - 2014

Human figures

Punuk exceptional Torso

Punuk culture (Archaic Eskimo)
9th-12th century
Carved walrus tooth
Height: 7 ¾ in. (19 cm)

Excavated at Kialegak, St. Lawrence Island
Presumably ex collection Adelaide De Menil & Ted Carpenter, New York
Ex collection Jeffrey Myers, New York
Ex John Giltsoff, Brussels, acquired from the above
Ex European private collection
Published: Winter Bruneaf 2014 catalog, Galerie Indigènes / John Giltsoff pp. 36-37
Exhibited: Parcours des Mondes 2014, John Giltsoff

Human figure

Thule culture (Ancient Eskimo)
Prior 19th century
Carved walrus tooth
Height: 3 ¼ in. (8.5 cm)

Ex collection Donald Ellis Gallery

According to Fitzhugh et Kaplan (Inua: Spirit World of the Bering Sea Eskimo, 1982 : 156), these carved figurines were carved for several purposes: to stand in for people absent from the village during festivals, to avert infertility, or else to focus the attention of animal inua (spirit) during the Doll Festival, which was held to bless hunting and fishing expeditions in the coming year.

Reading tips

Gifts from the Ancestors: Ancient Ivories of Bering Strait
William W. Fitzhugh, Julia J. Hollowell, Aron Crowell
Princeton University Art Museum

Survival in the Arctic

Harpoon head

Old Bering Sea Culture
Circa 400 – 800 AD
Marine ivory
Length: 5 in. (13cm)

Ex collection Paul Steinhacker, New York, collected on St Lawrence Island in 1978.
Ex private collection, Canada.

A Yup’ik seal hunter
Nunivak, Alaska
Edward S. Curtis
“The North American Indian”, Volume XX (1930)

Harpoon stabilizer

Old Bering Sea II culture (Archaic Eskimo)
100 – 300 A.D.
Carved walrus tusk
Length: 4 ½ in. (11.2 cm)

Ex private collection, New York
Ex private collection, Geneva

Sea mammal figure – Fishing lure

Thule culture (Ancient Eskimo)
Circa 1500-1700 A.D.
Carved walrus tooth
Length: 5 ¾ in. (14.5 cm)

Ex collection Anthony J.P. Meyer, Paris

Spear-thrower (atlatl)

Yup’ik culture (Inuit)
Carved wood, marine ivory
Early 20th century or earlier
Height: 13 ¼ in. (34 cm)

Ex collection Finch & Co, London
Exhibited & published: A la découverte de la culture Inuit, Cannes, Centre d’Art de la Malmaison, 2017

Peary’s expedition North Pole

Painted décor depicting Robert Peary’s expedition to the North Pole in 1908-1909

Approximately 22.5m long by 2.5m high
Made by the Millard & Co. studio in New York, USA circa 1910s

Ex collection Jeffrey R. Myers, New York
Exhibited & published:
A la découverte de la culture Inuit, Cannes, Centre d’Art de la Malmaison, 2017

Photos: Courtesy Centre d’Art de la Malmaiso


Polar bear figure

Old Bering Sea Culture
100-500 AD
Marine ivory
Length: 3 in. (7.5 cm)

Ex collection Guy Porré & Nathalie Chaboche

Seal effigy

Yup’ik culture (Eskimo)
Carved wood and metal
Early 20th century
Length: 8 in. (20.5 cm)

Ex collection of the artist Robert Riggs (1896-1970), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Ex collection Isa Barnett (1922-2001), Sante Fe, New Mexico
By descent
Ex collection Craig Finch, London

Whale figure

Thule Culture (ancient Eskimo)
Prior to the 18th century
Carved walrus tooth
Height: 3 in. (7.4 cm)

Ex collection Jeffrey Myers, New York

Inuit Kayak model

Carved wood and hide
Early 20th century
Length: between 19 in. and 28 ½ in.
(48.5 cm and 72.5 cm)

Exhibited and published: A la découverte de la Culture Inuit, Cannes, Centre d’Art de la Malmaison, 2017, p. 37-41.


The Kayak of the Eskimo
Keystone View Company, Alaska

Photography: 1904, St. Louis World’s Fair
Contemporary platinum print
Height: 43 cm / Length: 44 cm


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