African art > Bronze, leopard, messenger, warrior, statue, pirogues > Benin Bronze
Benin Bronze (N° 22554)
Benign plaque, depicting the Oba flanked by armed warriors.
Verdigris patina revealing the metal locally.
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Before the destruction of the palace of the kingdom of Benin in 1897, the divine character of the kings, the Oba, was illustrated by multiple works celebrating their power. In African tribal art, war scenes glorifying them were reproduced on narrative plaques, in bronze, and affixed to the walls. Sumptuous bronze altars, commemorative figures of deceased chiefs, majestic felines, heavy bracelets, anklets and recades were produced in quantity in numerous foundry workshops using the lost wax casting technique.
During the 16th century, the Oba Esigie commissioned the first copper alloy plates with relief ornamentation. Many of them were cast in pairs in order to symmetrically decorate the pillars or the walls of the palace. Olfert Dapper describes these plates in a work published in 1668 in Holland, according to accounts by travelers amazed by the art of the Beninese court.
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