Ivory and bronze sculptures from the West African Kingdom of Benin, in present-day Nigeria, are among the continent’s most important and valuable works of art. The detailed workmanship and outstanding aesthetic quality of Benin’s royal sculpture has been compared to the work of the celebrated Renaissance artist, Cellini. Its wealth of iconographic detail conveys the sumptuousness of the royal court and its historical importance as a regional powerhouse in West Africa from the 16th through the 19th centuries.
In Benin—Kings and Rituals, Court Arts from Nigeria over 300 selected objects offer a broad survey of the royal arts and culture of the Kingdom of Benin from its inception in the fourteenth century to its overthrow by British forces in the late nineteenth century; the exhibition further documents the kingdom’s reconstitution during the colonial period and its continuity into the twenty-first century.
After Vienna, this show travels to the Musée du quai Branly, Paris October 2, 2007 – January 6, 2008; Ethnologisches Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin February 7 – May 25, 2008; Art Institute of Chicago June 27 – September 21, 2008.
Kunsthistorisches Museum Web Site