ART on view
Pierre Dartevelle’s reputation as a
tribal art dealer is long established and he needs
no introduction to those with an interest in African
art. His gallery on Impasse St. Jacques in
the Sablon neighborhood of Brussels has been
a place that everyone—collectors, other dealers,
scholars, and museum curators—have ultimately
had to visit. However, as well known as he is
as a dealer, very few people have known much
about his collecting activities, until now.
Pierre fi rst came into contact with tribal art in
his early childhood and within a family context.
He grew up surrounded by African objects that
belonged to his father, Edmond.
The latter was a specialist in natural history
and was appointed by the Musée du Congo
Belge (now the Musée Royal d’Art Africain) and
the Institut Royal Colonial Belge to lead a jointly
sponsored expedition to the coastal areas of the
Belgian Congo, Cabinda, Angola, and the Middle
Congo. At the same time that he was engaging
in research work, he collected objects that were
considered “ethnographic” at the time but that
turned out to be of such high quality that many
of them are now recognized as true masterpieces.
These objects, along with documentation pertaining
to the expedition, were publicly displayed in
June of 2010 at the Musée du Président Jacques
Chirac at Sarran, France, at an exhibition honoring
Edmond titled Carnets de voyage, which was
made possible by a loan of material from Tervuren’s
Musée Royal d’Art Africain.
Pierre, who was born in Brussels in 1940, took
his fi rst trip to Africa when he was a child, and
By Claude-Henri Pirat
FIG. 1 (far left): Edmond
Dartevelle and his wife in
front of an airplane. Former
French Congo, 1936.
FIG. 2 (above): Pierre
Dartevelle with the Batcham
crest purchased by the Met,
FIG. 3 (left): Scepter, nkama
ntinu. Yombe, Kongo,
Ivory. H: 25.5 cm.
Facing page top, left to right:
FIG. 4: Head.
Lega, DR Congo.
Ivory. H: 14 cm.
FIG. 5: Figurine.
Lega, DR Congo.
Ivory. H: 13 cm.
FIG. 6: Finial of the staff
of Chief Pedro Diamante.
Kongo, DR Congo.
Ivory. H: 11 cm.