I found this fantastic painting in New Hampshire, but have no idea how it got there, as both the painter and the subject are Kenyan. Perhaps it was purchased, or given as a gift to a fellow student or teacher of the artist’s at the Technic Institute in Nairobi--the address of which is noted on reverse--who brought it back to the states. I have no idea, but what a portrait!
Drawn in pencil along the top edge of the painting one can just make out “Kikuyu” (though not the the word that follows it), which identifies the subject as a member of the Kikuyu tribe (also known as Agikuya) a Bantu tribe native to Central Kenya which comprises about 20 percent of the Kenyan population. Based on my (admittedly superficial) research about traditional Kikuyu dress, I am not entirely certainly whether the subject is male or female. But what a beatific presence, with this incredible smiling face, white feather crown (with yellow behind, like a halo of light), and then flame-like trail of feathers running down their arms. A marvelous one to live with, I’d say, and just marvelous.
Framed, as found, 15 5/8” x 11 3/4”. Painting itself, on panel, measures 14” x 10”. The painting (which I am guessing is tempera, ink and pencil on wood) shows some wear/age/dirt, including a bit of paint loss along the top right edge where a second word is written in large pencil letters and a little roughness at lower right—but to me that doesn't matter a bit; it is all about energy and immediacy. Framed as found in a solid wood frame (from which it could easily be removed), that is wired on the back for hanging. There is one nick in the wood of the frame at the center of the left edge.