Plaque: Equestrian Oba and Attendants

Edo peoples

Not on view

Over the course of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries a remarkable series of some nine hundred rectangular brass plaques were cast in relief at the Court of Benin by a guild of brass casters for display across at the facade of the royal palace. A seventeenth-century Dutch visitor to the court described the sprawling palace complex, with its many large courtyards and galleries. In the largest rooms, wooden pillars were covered from top to bottom with works depicting the array of officials at the court in great detail. In this example, the king mounting a horse is flanked by attendants rendered on a hierarchical scale that designated their relative rank.

Robert Goldwater recommended the acquisition of this Benin masterpiece from New York gallerist John J. Klejman in 1957. At the time, Klejman claimed it was "the most important plaque which ever appeared on the market." It was the first of three exceptional masterpieces from the Kingdom of Benin acquired under Goldwater's guidance that dramatically transformed the collection. The sixteenth-century <a href="/Collections/search-the-collections/312291">commemorative head of an Oba</a>, and the <a href="/Collections/search-the-collections/318622">Queen Mother ivory pendant mask</a> from the same period, both on view in <a href="/collections/galleries/africa-oceania-and-the-americas/352">Gallery 352</a>, were purchased the following year. Shortly after its acquisition, the plaque was prominently featured on the cover of the MPA's 1958 exhibition <em>Primitive Sculpture in Metal: Bronzes from Benin and Gold from the Americas</em>.

#2203. Plaque: Equestrian Oba and Attendants

Plaque: Equestrian Oba and Attendants, Brass, Edo peoples

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