The Allegory of Africa

While you are no doubt familiar with Frédéric-Auguste Bartoldi’s “Statue of Liberty,” you have probably not yet been introduced to his “Allegory of Africa.”

The figure of a well muscled African reclines prone, neither rising nor resigned to fall back. He is frozen in a moment of choice. His intense eyes communicate his active mind as he weighs his decision, not yet made. His powerful physique and lion’s pelt testify to his capability.

The installation at the National Gallery allows one to stalk around the statue within the intimacy of an alcove in the back corner of the gallery. Not life size, the smallish statue could be cradled as a hefty burden to a man’s chest.

The statue invokes in me contemplation of my own decisions not yet made as I momentarily hover between rising and falling as determined ultimately by my own choice.

Allegory of Africa at the National Gallery of Art

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