This mask is part of an important group of Inupiaq portrait masks was collected in the 1930’s by Madeline Thomas Langworthy (1893-1980). In her search for masks from Alaska, the artist and avid collector enlisted the help of agents of the US Mercantile company who were able to acquire many of these through their trade with remote Alaskan villages. Langworthy treasured the documents and correspondence associated with the collection. These documents have all been preserved in digital form adding a rich personal history to the Langworthy collection of Inupiaq portrait masks.
Madeline Langworthy, Berkeley, California, collected in Alaska in the 1930s
(see collection notes)
The collection notes indicate that this mask is one of two masks sent to Mrs. Langworthy by the U.S, Mercantile Co., based in Nome, Alaska. A letter dated October 21st, 1932 states the "The two masks come from Nunavak island which is about 250 miles south from Nome," with additional notes by Mrs. Langworthy, listing the two masks as "old mane face + horrible face, tongue out."
Bonham’s and Butterfield, San Francisco, December 5, lot 165