Sonja Ferlov Mancoba (b. Copenhagen 1911, d. Paris 1984)

Sculpture (Untitled), 1951. Unsigned. Plaster. Cast in plaster by Lisbeth Munch-Petersen. H. 27 cm.

Literature: Listed as no. 44 in the catalogue to the exhibition COBRA, Kunstnernes Kunsthandel, Copenhagen, 1961, but not exhibited. Literature: “Sonja Ferlov Mancoba”, Copenhagen, 1979, cat. no. 23, ill. fig. 27 p. 39. Literature: “Sonja Ferlov Mancoba. Skulpturer / Sculptures”, Fyns Kunstmuseum, Holstebro Kunstmuseum, Nordjyllands Kunstmuseum, 2003, cat. 24, this sculpture ill. p. 117.

Sonja Ferlov Mancoba joins the ranks of artists who in their lifetime never achieve the recognition that their purely art-historical significance deserves. Ferlov Mancoba began her art studies in 1931 at the Arts and Crafts School under Bizzie Høyer, and then continued at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in the years 1932–33. She also met Richard Mortensen and Ejler Bille, with whom she explores the possibilities of surrealism and psychoanalysis in the artistic process. In 1935, the three are on Bornholm, and it was here that her interest turned to the sculptural.

Her sculptures grew out of a deep interest in non-Western cultures – in particular African art, which she became acquainted with in the 1920s through the Danish collector Carl Kjersmeier. The interest was further nurtured by the meeting with her future husband, the South African artist Ernest Mancoba. The couple met in Paris in the late 1930s, and apart from a short stay in Denmark from 1947–52, where they never felt completely artistically or personally welcome, it was in France that they spent the rest of their lives together.

Sonja Ferlov's sympathetic understanding of art – or “expression”, as she described it – was based on a clear desire to highlight the connection and community between people rather than for career-wise or economic considerations: "Only by virtue of each other can we live and breathe, and no one creates alone….” The global outlook and spirituality are therefore essential clues in Ferlov Mancoba's work. The beautiful plaster figure we are offering at this auction stands naked but strong in all its simplicity. As in so many of Ferlov Mancoba's sculptures, clear traces of the creative force have been left behind, and the surface thus appears as multiple prints of the artist's hand. The sculpture has an impressive exhibition history and a no less distinguished provenance from Troels Andersen, former director of Museum Jorn, Silkeborg.

Sonja Ferlov Mancoba is today represented in several museums at home and abroad, and her powerful, potent works are often in high demand on the auction market. You recently had the chance to experience her work at a large exhibition at the National Gallery of Denmark and subsequently at the Centre Pompidou in 2019. Furthermore, she will be exhibited at Bornholm Art Museum – and a special and prestigious pavilion is planned to open in 2024 at the earliest.

Exhibited: “Sonja Ferlov Mancoba, Ernest Mancoba, Grete-Inge Petersen”, Galerie Birch, Copenhagen, 1952. Exhibited: “Sonja Ferlov Mancoba, Alberto Giacometti”, Sophienholm, Lyngby, 1980, cat. no. 13. Exhibited: “Skulptur Veksølund”, 1985, cat. no. 59, ill. in the catalogue. Exhibited: “Veksølund 10 år”, 1988, cat. no. 77. Exhibited: “Sonja Ferlov Mancoba”, Bornholms Kunstmuseum, 1993. Exhibited: “Retour sur Cobra”, Artcurial, Paris, 1993. Exhibited: “Sonja Ferlov Mancoba. Maske og ansigt”, Statens Museum for Kunst (National Gallery of Denmark), Copenhagen, 2019, cat. no. 164, ill. in the catalogue.

Provenance: Troels Andersen, former director at Museum Jorn, Silkeborg, Denmark.

This lot is part of our ongoing Theme: Female Artists

This lot is subject to Artist's Royalty.

Condition report available on request.

Request condition report

Bidding Deadline


50,000–60,000 DKK

Com­mis­sion bid

How do commission bids work?