Thursday, February 26, 2015

Returned Benin works of art

Two bronze artworks, created in the now non-existing kingdom of Benin, were returned by the grandson of a man who looted them, to the great-grandson of the then ruler. The artwork was taken in 1897 by British officers sent to the nation, now part of Nigeria,  in response to the "massacre" of seven British officers visiting the king. Supposedly the officers were on a peace mission and they were supposedly murdered on the orders of the king. What exactly happened and why is now questionable. 500 British went to destroy the capital in retaliation. 800 gorgeous, sophisticated bronzes used as palace decorations and having other social, cultural, historical value ended up at the  British  Museum. Others were sold abroad. Capt. Herbert Walker left with a ceremonial bell and an odd looking bird, both bronzes. He also kept a diary recording his experiences. These items eventually descended to his grandson who got in touch with a society campaigning to return works of art from Benin to their royal palace, the Richard Lander Society. Walker the grandson recently returned the two objects he had inherited to the great-grandson of the deposed Benin king. Fascinating. The Benin began making metal works after contact with the Portugese in the 1400s, from whom they received brass bracelets. Later Europeans were stunned at the quality, detail and sophistication of the bronzes. The quality of the sculptures is stunning by any standards. Read about it here http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-31605284

No comments:

Post a Comment