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20 April

Daniel Marchesseau in memory of André Fourquet

Born in 1947 at Paris, Daniel Marchesseau a general heritage curator and art historian, and has been the director of the Musée de la Vie Romantique in Paris.

André Fourquet (Saint-Laurent du Maroni, 1928 - Salamanque, 2001) was considered as being one of the greatest Parisian collectors in the field of arts from Africa and Oceania.

He was a member of the committee for pre-selection of the acquisitions of the musée du quai Branly where he unfortunately did not have enough time to fully express his sagacity, but even before his short participation in the museum, he had been highly attentive to the programming of the future museum and on his clout on the national and international scene with the opening of the rooms of the Pavillon des Sessions at the Louvre Museum in 2000. He had developed an in-depth knowledge of the arts of Africa, with a special liking for arts from Gabon. He was also interested in other cultures, specially those of Oceania about which he had acquired remarkable testimonials and works.

In 2002, a figure of a Fang shrine guard (Gabon) was donated by Daniel Marchesseau in the memory of André Fourquet to the musée du quai Branly.

figure of Fang shrine guard - Click to enlarge, open in a new window
figure of Fang shrine guard (Gabon), 19th century.
figure of Fang shrine guard - Click to enlarge, open in a new window
Donation Daniel Marchesseau in André Fourquet's memory
figure of Fang shrine guard - Click to enlarge, open in a new window
© musée du quai Branly, photo Patrick Gries and Valérie Torre

This figure of Fang shrine guard, still called Byéri male statuette is exhibited in the musée du quai Branly among the permanent collections (Africa section).

Description of the figure of Fang shrine guard

It is a 19th century statuette represented with bent legs, and arms laid along the body. The head, quite round in shape, has plaits flung behind. The face has shrunken eyes, the neck is broad with muscular shoulders and arms on a longish body. The presence of a tenon makes it possible to attach the object on to bark box. For the Fangs (South Cameroon and Gabon) the Byéri, the worship of ancestors, is of primordial importance. The skulls and some of the bones of the ancestors are preserved in a cylindrical box made of bark. A wooden statuette or head as an evocation of the ancestors is attached to this shrine with a tenon. This sculpture which guards the relics is also known as Byéri. The Byéri is consulted at important moments (initiation, conflicts, sudden death,…) and also for hunting and fishing. The skulls are then removed from the shrines and sprayed with blood from animal sacrifices. The statuettes, detached from the shrines, are coated with palm oil which gives them a gleaming appearance.

The André Fourquet donation

This donation proposed by Daniel Marchesseau brought three significant works into the museum in 2004:

  • Six-eyed Bakwele mask (old collection Charles Lapicque)
  • Puni mask (old collection Vlaminck)
  • Mourning mask, Détroit de Torrès, (old collection Hooper)