African art > Bronze, leopard, messenger, warrior, statue, pirogues > Benin Plate
Benin Plate (N° 13463)
Ex-collection French African art.
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Before the destruction of the palace of the Kingdom of Benin in 1897, the divine character of kings, the Oba , was illustrated by multiple works celebrating their power. In African tribal art, glorifying war scenes were reproduced on narrative plates, in bronze, and affixed to the walls. Sumptuous bronze altars, commemorative figures of deceased chefs, majestic felines, heavy bracelets, hairs and recades were produced in quantity in many workshops of smelters according to the technique of cast iron with lost wax. During the 16th century, oba Esigie commissioned the first copper alloy plates with embossed ornamentation. Many of them were cast in pairs to symmetrically decorate the pillars or walls of the palace. Olfert Dapper describes these plaques in a book published in 1668 in Holland, based on the accounts of travellers marvelling at the art of the Benin court. This bronze sculpture with fastening holes was made using the lost wax technique. It describes life in the palace, featuring two couples of dignitaries sheltered by a veranda representing the royal palace. The background is very finely engraved with quad-foliated patterns associated with the aquatic plants used by Olokun's healers, but also at the four days edo and the four parts of the day. A similar copy is on display at the British Museum in London.Delivered in a custom-made wooden briefcase.