'Portrait of Marianne' by Ben Enwonwu, sold for £555,063 ($700,000).Described as "a powerful portrait of the actress, Marianne Inness," by Ben Enwonwu, it was sold for £555,063 ($700,000) at Bonhams Modern & Contemporary African Art sale in London on Thursday, 3 October.
Estimated at £150,000-200,000, Portrait of Marianne was one of Enwonwu’s most iconic paintings. The sale as a whole made a total of £2,015,635 ($2,520,000) and set two new world records at auction for the South African artist Zanele Muholi and the Congolese painter Mwila.
Bonhams Director of Modern & Contemporary African Art, Giles Peppiatt, said, “Marianne was a close friend of Ben Enwonwu – they were neighbours in London during the 1960s – but in this portrait, she is transformed by the artist into a symbol of African pride. This wonderful painting attracted spirited international bidding and the high amount of the winning bid is a reflection, not only of Marianne’s dignified presence, but also of Enwonwu’s enduring appeal.
Other highlights of the sale included:
• Fruits of Bali by Vladimir Griegorovich Tretchikoff. One of Tretchikoff’s most beloved and recognizable paintings, it had an estimate of £200,000-300,000 and sold for £250,063.
• Raw Light, by Gerard Sekoto, an atmospheric depiction of Eastwood township executed before the artist’s self-imposed exile to Paris. Sold for £137,563.
• Negritude by Ben Enwonwu sold for £162,563 (estimate: £100,000-150,000).
• Moon Madonna by the Nigerian artist Jusuf Grillo. Sold for £137,563 (estimate £60,000-90,000).