Six large photographic portraits on scarification

Photographie,1905290 x 395 mm

9 700 



Impressive portrait work featuring scarified characters belonging to Congolese tribes, 5 women, all covered with a single sheet, and 1 man wearing a shirt, have scars on his face, arms, torso or stomach. Three of them wear a Christian medallion.

The photographic precision and the sharpness of the scars details are the work of a professional using a photographic chamber according to the European criteria: use of a white background and postures of the models (the fixed body, the gaze turned towards the horizon).

All of these elements suggest that these shots had a commercial purpose such as the creation of postcards. A French photographer was there at this time and used these photographic techniques for his work on scarification in order to produce postcards, Jean Audema.

Central Africa,1905.290 x 395 mm,

Six vintage album in prints, 11.5 x 15.5 inch (290 x 395 mm) pasted on a 13.7 x 17.5 inches cardboard (350 x x 445 mm). Newspaper « le Gaulois » dated 1905 on the back, modern white passe partout.


Jean Audema


Since the late nineteenth century, France manages several colonies in Central Africa and particularly from 1882, the French Congo which includes the current Gabon and Republic of Congo. Born August 19, 1864 in Montpellier, Jean Audema was employed as an auxiliary in Congo in 1894, then postmaster in 1898, station chief in 1902, and was finally promoted to a colonial administrator in 1904. During this period he made numerous photos in Gabon, Congo and Tchad between 1894 and 1912. A large part of his photographs were used for postcards distributed in France and which were a great success and soon collected.

The National Museum of African Art’s Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives has made these precious time-documents available online.

And by comparing postcards and our photographs we note on postcards that show scarification the use of the same poses and accessories.

Jean Audema is considered today as one of the pioneers of photography in central Africa, his original photographs are of all rarities, such a set never appeared on the trade.

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