Benin bronzes

Long in Exile, the Looted Benin Bronzes Tell the Story of a Mighty African Kingdom

Title: Long in Exile, the Looted Benin Bronzes Tell the Story of a Mighty African Kingdom
Author: Benjamin Sutton
Media Outlet: Artsy
Publish Date: February 21, 2019

“(…) At the time, the Benin bronzes were unlike any African artworks and artifacts that Europeans were familiar with—such as elaborate Yoruba headdresses, tunics, and other regalia—both aesthetically and as records of a powerful and advanced kingdom. Because they were made through elaborate processes and from rich materials, and because they depict a vibrant cultural life in a refined, naturalistic aesthetic tradition, the Benin bronzes fully met “the European definition of what art is,” Gunsch said. “That really changed the way people responded to them in the market. A lot of other African art objects had a longer road to being recognized as art.

The British auctions sparked a fever for Benin bronzes, and museums in the U.K., Germany, and Austria, in particular, sought them out, as did art dealers. (…) Other Benin works, including some of those in U.S. museums, come from the 1970s, when the collection of the Pitt Rivers Museum in England was sold off.”

A guide to Africa's 'looted treasures’

Title: A guide to Africa's 'looted treasures’
Author: Ashley Lime
Media Outlet: BBC Africa, Nairobi
Publish Date: November 23, 2018

“During colonial rule in Africa, thousands of cultural artefacts were plundered. African countries want them back and major museums across Europe have agreed to loan the famous Benin Bronzes back to Nigeria. Now France has launched a report calling for thousands of African art in its museums to be returned to the continent.

(…) These were two infamous lions from the Tsavo region in Kenya, East Africa that killed and ate railway workers on the British Kenya-Uganda at the end of the 19th Century.

The labourers were building the railway line between Mombasa and Lake Victoria over nine months in 1898.

The two killer beasts were eventually shot dead by British engineer Lieutenant Colonel John Patterson, at the helm of the railway project.

The stuffed lions were purchased from Patterson by the Field Museum of Natural History in the US city of Chicago in 1925 and catalogued into the museum's permanent collections.

Lt Col Patterson reported the lions' feeding frenzy took the lives of 135 railway workers and black Africans, but the Field Museum says later research conducted by its scientists drastically reduced that estimate to 35.

The Kenya National Museum wants the lions returned.”