Northern New Ireland
Carved wood, natural pigments, fiber and tapa
Late 19th century
Height: 20 ½ in. (52 cm)
Collected by Mission Hiltrup, Germany
Ex Enghien Auction, June 23th, 1984, lot 35, page 16
Ex collection Georges Goldfayn, Paris
Acquired from Alain Schoffel June 29th, 1984, thence by descent
Illustrated in: « Mélanésie » Galerie Robert Burawoy, 1976Published: Faces, visible - invisible, April 2021
This exceptional white mask with an imposing coiffure is reminiscent of the canonical form of tatanua headdresses. Still, it belongs to an eminently limited corpus of portrait masks of important men of New Ireland. It dates back to the 19th century and was collected by Hiltrup Missionaries from Germany.
It was later acquired by George Goldfayn (1933-2019), an author, publisher, man of letters and cinema. Passionate about art, he was closely associated with the Surrealist circle in Paris from 1950 onwards. A close friend and confidant of André Breton, Georges Goldfayn participated in the launch of the gallery À l'Étoile scellée, 11 rue du Pré-aux-Clercs in Paris at the end of 1952. Breton was the artistic director while Goldfayn was the gallery administrator.
Under the aegis of André Breton, he began collecting ancient Oceanic and North American art in the 1950s and continued to do so until his death.