Taking a preliminary look at the Bonhams Modern & Contemporary African Art Sale that held yesterday evening, 3 October 2019, the overall results seem moderate. Of the 81 lots that went on the block, 15 surpassed their high estimates, 25 sold within expectations, only 3 failed to hit low estimates, while 38 lots went unsold.
The enthusiasm for Ben Enwonwu (Nigerian, 1917-1994) remains high. All seven works by him sold, with four surpassing their high estimates. The top lot of the night, Portrait of Marianne, fetched almost three times its high estimate. The portrait, which was exhibited at the Arts Unlimited Gallery in London in 1972 and later in Lagos in 1974, is an oil painting of a Nigerian actress, Marianne Inness, who Enwonwu met when he was living in London. The portrait harks back to his Negritude phase.
Other top lots from the auction are Fruits of Bali by Vladimir Griegorovich Tretchikoff (South African, 1913-2006), which sold for £250,062; Negritude by Ben Enwonwu sold for £162,562; Raw Light by Gerard Sekoto (South African, 1913-1993) sold for £137,562, and Moon Madonna by Yusuf Adebayo Cameron Grillo (Nigerian, Born 1934) also sold for £137,562.
Prices include premium
Featured image: Portrait of Marianne 1972, Ben Enwonwu. Credit Bonhams