This type of Dance mask is associated with masquerades called ngontang (meaning young girl or daughter of a European), which evolved in Fang communities across present-day northern Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, and southern Cameroon. The masquerade was based on the disruptive presence of Europeans in the region. Carved from a single piece of wood with remnants of kaolin on its surface and characteristic coiffure, this example has no costume attachments, so it was likely made for export. It is stylistically related to one known as the ‘Derain’ mask at the Centre Georges Pompidou, which painter Maurice de Vlaminck sold to artist André Derain in 1904, at a pivotal moment for the development of European art.
Calvin Winner, February 2022
'Pablo Picasso: The Legacy of Youth', Sainsbury Centre, Norwich, 13/3/2022 - 17/7/2022
Note in the Sainsbury Centre archives from Henri A. Kamer suggesting the mask was brought to France by Governor C. H. Noufflard during the last decade of the nineteenth century and was once in the collection of H. Gayraud, Paris.
Acquired by Henri A. Kamer from Charles Ratton.
Purchased by Robert and Lisa Sainsbury from Henri A. Kamer in 1968.
Donated to the Sainsbury Centre, University of East Anglia in 1973 as part of the original gift.