Title: Figure of a Mother and Child
Date: mid-20th century
Artist: Unidentified Yoruba artist
Medium: wood and indigo
16 1/8 in. x 6 7/8 in. x 7 in. (41 x 17.5 x 17.8 cm)
Credit Line: Friends Fund
Object Number: 68:1989
Place associated: southwestern Nigeria
Current Location: Not On View
The serene face of this female figure wears a subtle smile; her eyes and mouth form an arrangement of three blunt diamonds. Her hungry child’s face is wrapped around the end of her elongated breast. The artist successfully utilizes abstract geometry to evoke bonding and unity. This figure likely represents the primordial woman/mother rather than a specific individual. The legs of her stool take the form of stylized celts, and may refer to the stone axe heads associated with Shango, the god of thunder, thought to be the creator of these symbolically powerful stones. The spirit whose image is depicted in the statue was invoked through prayers, and the carving would have been placed on an altar in a shrine or sanctuary belonging to an extended family.
Merton D. Simpson, New York, NY, USA

Donald M. Suggs, St. Louis, MO

Alan Lieberman, St. Louis, MO

- 1989
Alexander Gallery, Inc., St. Louis, MO

1989 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, purchased from Alexander Gallery, Inc. [1]

The main source for this provenance is a letter attached to the invoice from Alexander Gallery, dated April 24, 1989. [SLAM document files]

[1] An invoice dated April 24, 1989 from Alexander Gallery, Inc. to the Saint Louis Art Museum documents the purchase of this object, listed as "9667 Yoroba Maternity Figure, Nigeria, Wood, Dark Brown-Indigo Patina" [SLAM document files]. Minutes of the Collections Committee of the Board of Trustees, Saint Louis Art Museum, April 25, 1989.
Exhibition History
Title: African Highlights (2008)
Date: July 2008 - October 2009
Venue: Saint Louis Art Museum
Title: African Highlights (2009)
Date: Begin November 2009
Venue: Saint Louis Art Museum
Publication History
Title: The Saint Louis Art Museum Handbook of the Collections
Editor: Mary Ann Steiner
Publisher: Saint Louis Art Museum
Title: Favorites from Our Collection
Periodical Title: The Saint Louis Art Museum Magazine
Edition: April – June
Year Published: 2000
Title: New African Galleries Focus on Art and Life
Periodical Title: Saint Louis Art Museum Magazine
Publisher: Saint Louis Art Museum
Title: Saint Louis Art Museum: Handbook of the Collection
Editor: Mary Ann Steiner
Publisher: Saint Louis Art Museum
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