African art > Bronze, leopard, messenger, warrior, statue, pirogues > Pair of altar heads Benin Bronze

Pair of altar heads Benin Bronze (N° 10515)

Ex English private collection of African art.

These altar heads created using the lost wax technique are very loaded with details and patterns. The figures with realistic features have facial scarification and many finely detailed ornaments. This pair of busts presents a beautiful symmetry. The two figures wear a cross-braced garment with a collar bearing a bell.
The horns themselves are covered with geometric patterns and sculpted faces. At the top of each horn sits a soldier, helmet on his head and weapon in his fist.

The art of Benin is described as a court art because it is closely associated with the king, known as the oba. The tradition of Ifè bronze court objects dates back to the 14th century.

The numerous bronze heads and statues created by the artists of Benin were reserved for the exclusive use of the inhabitants of the royal palace and, most often, placed on altars consecrated by each new oba, king of the ethnic group. These altars of rectangular shape were surmounted by heads, statues, carved ivory tusks, bells and sticks. They were used to commemorate an oba and to get in touch with his spirit. The benign bronzes are undoubtedly among the most famous of the tribal art of Black Africa. They have indeed been in large quantities monopolized by Western museums, especially since the early twentieth century. This period is not insignificant because at that time, the British government put the oba under pressure for economic reasons. In this context and following the assassination of a young British consul and his delegation, a punitive expedition led by the Admiral of the Royal Navy, Sir Harry Rawson, pillaged, massacred and reduced to ashes the city of Benin. The royal treasure of the oba, consisting of about 2500 pieces, was repatriated to Europe and scattered.  

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OriginEx collection anglaise
Material(s)bronze africain
Height cm107
Width25 cm
Weight25.00 Kg
Estimated datingcirca 1950

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