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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Standing Figure of Eshu

Image provided by Lance Entwistle

Standing Figure of Eshu

early 20th century

Standing in the corner is a gentleman who tempts fate. He likes to preside at places of transition, where he can push people to recognize the need to change directions. He carries a sword to cut through difficulties and a flywhisk to invoke his authority to make things happen. Esu is prepared to bring the insights of the gods to bear on earthly dilemmas, such as changing jobs and moving on.

After 37 years, Michael McCafferty retired from his work at the Seattle Art Museum on April 20, 2012. He was the lead designer for galleries in this museum, the Olympic Sculpture Park, and SAAM and oversaw the installation of several hundred exhibitions.

He was offered the following praise salute on his last day:

Master of the delicate dance
Required to give art the chance
To fly through the air and land at our feet
May Esu guide your fate in all that you meet.
Wood, iron
19 1/2 x 6 1/2 x 6 1/4"
General Acquisition Fund in honor of Michael McCafferty
Provenance: (Said to have been collected between 1925 and 1930); Private collection, France, dates unknown; Private collection, United States, dates unknown; [Entwistle Gallery, Paris, France, by 2012]; purchase from gallery by Seattle Art Museum
Image provided by Lance Entwistle
Now on view at the Seattle Art Museum


Published ReferencesWilliam Fagg, Yoruba: Sculpture of West Africa, London, 1982

Robert Farris Thompson, Face of the Gods, New York, 1993

Seattle Art Museum acknowledges that we are on the traditional homelands of the Duwamish and the customary territories of the Suquamish and Muckleshoot Peoples. As a cultural and educational institution, we honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future. We also acknowledge the urban Native peoples from many Nations who call Seattle their home.