Bonhams to offer the Robert and Nancy Nooter Collection of African Art

Art Daily
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A Songye/Lulua Stool, Democratic Republic of the Congo, estimate: $40,000-60,000. Photo: Bonhams.
A Songye/Lulua Stool, Democratic Republic of the Congo, estimate: $40,000-60,000. Photo: Bonhams.

NEW YORK, NY.- Fifty-nine works from The Robert and Nancy Nooter Collection of African Art will be offered at Bonhams sale of African, Oceanic & Pre-Columbian Art on May 11, 2021. Leading the group is a magnificent Songye/Lulua Stool skillfully carved out of one piece of wood. It is estimated at $40,000-60,000.

In 1965, Mr. Robert H. Nooter and Mrs. Nancy I. Nooter relocated to Liberia while Mr. Nooter served as Director of the country’s USAID mission; this is where their interest in collecting African art began. They continued collecting after their return to the US, making purchases in New York, Paris and London. The couple became heavily involved with the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art throughout the years; Mr. Nooter served on the Museum Board for 23 years and Mrs. Nooter – who was an artist in her own right – worked at the Museum, started up the docent program and co-authored a book with Warren Robbins, the comprehensive and widely used guide “African Art in American Collections” (Smithsonian, 1989). Mr. Nooter also served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Museum for African Art in New York. The Nooters loaned pieces from their collection to many African art exhibitions and donated a great number of works to the National Museum of African Art, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, and the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

Other highlights of the Nooter collection include:

• Fine Luba Female Caryatid Stool, Democratic Republic of the Congo (Estimate $50,000 – 70,000)

• Kota Ndassa Reliquary Figure, Gabon (Estimate $40,000 – 60,000)

Bonhams Director of African and Oceanic Art, Fredric Backlar said: “Robert and Nancy Nooter are among the most highly regarded collectors of African art, ardent supporters of the field, and passionate advocates for Africa in general. For more than 50 years, they avidly devoted their time and careers to support Africa and African Art, collecting works exhibiting power, mystery, spontaneity, and beauty. We are both honored and excited to bring their collection to auction. We are also thrilled to be offering African & Oceanic works from the Ruth and Marc Franklin Collection, as well as a curated selection of artworks from private collectors from the United States, Europe and Australia.”

Highlights from Private Collections include:

• An Exceptional Sawos Ceremonial Hook Figure, Middle Sepik River, Papua New Guinea, collected in 1910 (Estimate: $60,000 – 90,000)

• Superb and Rare Kongo Chief’s Bell, Democratic Republic of the Congo, published in Kongo – Power and Majesty, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2015 and exhibited during the ground-breaking show (Estimate: $50,000 – 70,000)

• Superb Hook Necklace, lei niho palaoa, Hawaiian Islands (Estimate: $40,000 – 60,000)