Brass Plaque from Oba’s palace, 16/17 th century. British Museum.
The Art of Benin: Changing Relations between Europe and Africa I Kim Woods and Robin Mackie Introduction 1.1 The Art of Benin The Europeans and Benin Discovering Benin sculpture A royal art Summary 1.2 The conquest of Benin in the 1890s The British occupation of Benin 1892: Gallwey in Benin 1897: the ‘punitive expedition’ Looting the Benin bronzes References Resources
The Art of Benin: Changing Relations between Europe and Africa II Donna Loftus and Paul Wood Introduction 2.1The Benin bronzes in Britain Benin, the bronzes and British newspapers Victorian attitudes to race The British Museum and the Benin ‘antiquities’ African sources? Summary 2.2The Benin bronzes and modern art Exotic encounters ‘Modern’ and ‘primitive’ The Benin bronzes and ‘primitivism’ Displaying the Benin bronzes today References Resources 34
Aims This chapter will: introduce you to the art of Benin, a kingdom in West Africa which was home to a unique tradition of sculpture explore the ways that Europeans encountered this art both in the early modern period and in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries discuss how the context in which art is encountered shapes how it is understood give you some understanding of the ways that the meaning of artistic objects can undergo translation as they move from one context to another consider why the ownership and location of Benin’s art remains a controversial issue today demonstrate how the two disciplines of Art History and History can both contribute to our understanding of artworks.
Mask of a Queen Mother, Benin, 16th century, ivory, 25cm, London, British Museum
Exhibition at Vienna Ethnologisches Museum, Paris Quai Branly, Berlin Ethnologisches Museum and Chicago Institute of Arts.