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Hood Museum of Art
Dartmouth College
Hanover, NH 03755
603.646.2808
hood.museum@dartmouth.edu

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Recent Acquisitions 9

Valentine Green, British, 1739-1813, after Joshua Reynolds, British, 1723-1792
Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1780
Mezzotint with drypoint
Block: 18 13/16 x 14 3/4 in.; sheet: 20 7/8 x 15 7/8 in.
Purchased through the Adelbert Ames Jr. 1919 Fund; 2008.85

 

Unknown artist, Northern Plains
Toy cradle, about 1890s
Wool, cotton, canvas, hide, glass, shell, copper beads
15 1/2 x 5 x 5 1/4 in.
Purchased through the Mrs. Harvey P. Hood W’18 Fund; 2008.86

 

Gilles Demarteau, Flemish, 1722-1776, after Francois Boucher, French, 1703-1770
Young Boy Resting His Arm on a Fence, 1775
Chalk manner and tool work, printed in black and blue inks on white laid paper
10 3/16 x 7 3/16 in. (slightly irreg.)
Purchased through the Adelbert Ames Jr. 1919 Fund; 2008.87

 

Jeremy Frey, American, Passamaquoddy, born 1978
Vase Basket, 2008
Brown ash, sweetgrass, white cedar
15 x 10 in.
Purchased through the Phyllis and Bertram Geller 1937 Memorial Fund; 2008.88

 

Unknown artist, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kuba peoples
Kuba Mukyeen mask, 19th-20th century
Wood, beads, fiber, hair, cowrie shells, cloth
Height: 24 in.; diameter: 20 in.; width: 27 in.
Purchased through the William S. Rubin Fund; 2008.89

The Kuba Kingdom in what is presently the Democratic Republic of the Congo was founded in the 1600s by the leader Shyaam the Great; the system of governance he instituted made the kingdom one of the most prosperous and powerful states in Central Africa. All Kuba kings trace their ancestry back to Shyaam and align themselves to his legacy. At the most visible level, they adopt the iconic arts of the Kuba court that Shyaam and other members of his household are said to have invented, and Shyaam’s wife is credited for the mask form mukyeem. Mukyeem represents the Kuba ruler and constitutes an important part of his courtly possessions. It is this mask that represents the deceased king at his funeral and is buried with him upon his interment.

In both its materials and imagery, mukyeem is an icon of Kuba leadership. The mask depicts the Kuba king as a fantastical human being with elephantine attributes: the bull elephant, because of his size, strength, and intolerance of rivals, defined many ideals of Kuba leadership. The Kuba king’s face is evoked through large, disc-like eyes and finely carved wooden ears, nose, and mouth mounted on a flat fabric surface; the elephant’s trunk and tusks emerge from the crown of the head. A U-shaped padded collar affixed to the back of the head is typical of the types of headgear worn by the ruler when seated in state. The mask’s basketry substructure is covered entirely with cowrie shells and glass beads, both luxury materials used as currency throughout Central Africa. The blue, red, black, and white beads form geometric patterns found on prestige cloths given as tribute to the king, while the colors blue and white carry connotations of high status and spiritual purity.

 

John Chamberlain, American, born 1927
Signed, 1983
Painted steel
6 1/2 x 15 1/2 x 5 in.
Gift of Hugh J. Freund, Class of 1967; 2008.90

 

Unknown artist, Ivory Coast, Baule peoples
Figure for an Mbra Shrine, about 1965-75
Polychrome wood
21 1/8 x 9 1/4 x 10 1/4 in.
Gift of Steve Humble of Winchester, Kentucky; 2008.91

Within Baule communities, wooden figures of beautiful men and women are created to soothe wild nature spirits called asie usu whose chaotic and harmful behavior is the root of turmoil and misfortune in the human world. Asie usu inhabit the forest and are described as hideously ugly, with twisted limbs, wild red hair, enormous eyes, backwards-pointing feet, and diseased, dirty skin. When a person’s life is beset with disaster a diviner is called upon to determine the source of his or her misfortune. If that source is an asie usu, a more formalized relationship with the spirit is called for to lend structure and predictability to their interactions. The diviner commissions a wooden image of an idealized human for the spirit to inhabit, which is set within a shrine or altar located in the house of the afflicted individual. The altar complex of which this figure was part, photographed in situ in 1978, reflects both the wild temperament of the asie usu and the individual’s wish to assuage it. A large cloth bundle splattered with sacrificial chicken blood and offerings of gin and filled with materials from the forest reflects the spirit’s “hot” personality, while the figure itself is kept beautiful with fresh applications of paint and receives gifts of money.

The visual appeal of the figure was key to attracting the difficult spirit, while the social ideals it embodied were a powerful means of controlling it. This sculpture takes the form of a beautiful young mother of two who would hold a position of esteem within her community. Her elaborate hairstyle, which would require the assistance of several women to create and maintain, indicates her place within a wide social network, while her physical beauty and facial expression communicate complementary values of youthful beauty and mature self-possession. The fullness of her face and breasts, and especially the striations on her neck, are indications of her recent graduation from women’s initiation practices that physically and mentally prepare young Baule women for their future lives as wives and mothers. During these practices, teenage girls stay indoors for several months under the tutelage of older Baule women, learning proper behavior and hygiene while feasting on nourishing foods that bestow upon their bodies the healthy plumpness here on display. Additionally, the figure’s pursed mouth and hooded eyes exemplify a Baule social value of “coolness” and self-containment that valorize calm restraint over recklessness or aggression in social relationships.

 

Sanford Biggers, American, born 1970
Peter Norton Christmas Project 2008, 2008
Plastic and electronics
1 x 12 1/4 x 12 1/4 in.
Gift of the Director of the Hood Museum of Art; 2008.92

 

Unknown artist, Northeast, Delaware
Bandolier bag, collected about 1850
Commercial cloth, silk, and glass beads
30 x 22 7/8 in.
Purchased through the Miriam and Sidney Stoneman Acquisitions Fund; 2008.93

Last Updated: 12/21/09