Signed and dated Ngombé ‘74 lower centre
Oil on canvas,
H. 91 x W. 56.5 cm
Collection of Baron Powis de Tenbossche (1924-1999), Woluwe-Saint-Pierre
In 1944 the Belgian Jean Powis de Tenbossche joined the Resistance in Bruges and became a member of the Jerôme group, which was
led by Willy Bruynseraede. After the War he became a military officer and left for Congo, where he stayed until after the independence. He became colonel and advisor to President Mobuto and remained loyal to him until the regime was overthrown
in 1997. Powis was a Knight in the Order of Malta and Lieutenant-colonel in the Belgian army. In 1985 he was elevated a Baron and took the motto “Doe wel en zie niet om”, which translates to ‘Do good and don’t look back’. Powis presumably received this painting from Mobuto as a token of his gratitude.
Ngombé is one of the most famous painters of the Congo School. He developed a scratchy style, and his art presents beautiful characters with ancestral tributes. The women painted by him, “generous in their forms, have facial expressions charged with an angelic innocence, a touching slow rhythm and seem to possess a wisdom beyond our comprehension.”