The First Art Newspaper on the Net Established in 1996 United States Friday, November 28, 2014


'Looted' Nigerian art returned to traditional ruler Uku Akpolokpolo Erediauwa I
Retired hospital consultant Mark Walker (L) and Steve Dunstone (R), of the Richard Lander Society, stand beside a poster announcing the return of Benin bronze artefacts taken away during the British invasion in 1897, on June 21, 2014 in Benin City, Nigeria. Two statues from among thousands of works of art looted by British soldiers in the 19th century have been returned to Nigeria, prompting calls for other "stolen" treasures to be repatriated. For more than a century, the artefacts from the "Benin Bronzes" collection had been in the family of retired medical consultant Mark Walker, whose grandfather was involved in a 1897 British raid in which they were taken. AFP PHOTO / KELVIN IKPEA.

By: Florian Plaucheur

BENIN CITY.- Two statues from among thousands of works of art looted by British soldiers in the 19th century have been returned to Nigeria, prompting calls for other "stolen" treasures to be repatriated.

For more than a century, the artefacts from the "Benin Bronzes" collection had been in the family of retired medical consultant Mark Walker, whose grandfather was involved in a 1897 British raid in which they were taken.

But on Friday, the statues -- depicting a fabled ibis bird and the traditional monarch's bell -- were given back to the Oba (King) of Benin, Uku Akpolokpolo Erediauwa I, at a ceremony attended by royal officials and local dignitaries.

Walker said he decided to return the statues to Nigeria in September last year after learning of their history, in part from his grandfather's diary from the time, which described the treasures as "loot".

"That gave me the idea that perhaps they should go to the place where they will be appreciated for ever," he told AFP in Benin City, 240 kilometres (150 miles) east of Lagos.

"I'm very proud to be part of this because it is clearly seen as an historic occasion.

"I had no idea it would be regarded with such importance and it is very gratifying to me to have been able to play some small part in the history of the restoration of the bronzes because I think more will come back."

The tale of the precious artefacts is one of intrique and tragedy. It began when nine British officers were killed while on a trade mission to Erediauwa's grandfather, ruler of the then independent kingdom of Benin.

The British reaction was fierce. Walker's grandfather was part of a British military deployment to the kingdom to avenge the deaths of the officers. The overwhelming show of strength left several thousand local people dead and the city set ablaze, while the oba was forced into exile.

The royal palace was looted, resulting in the removal of hundreds of artworks, including the Benin Bronzes, which showed highly decorative images of the oba and his courtiers from centuries earlier.

Most of the ornate bronzes -- in fact melted down and refashioned brass from bracelets and other objects offered by Portuguese traders in the 15th century -- have been at the British Museum in London ever since.

They include a 19th century depiction of the head of the oba, who has divine status for the Edo people, and 16th century plaques taken from the walls of the royal palace, showing court life.

Symbolic gesture
Nigeria has previously requested the return of the Benin Bronzes but without success.

The Oba's brother, the Enogie of Obazuwa, Prince Edun Akenzua, described Walker's actions as a "friendly gesture" that would "contribute positively to healing the bruise etched on the psyche of Benin people since 1897".

He also called for the return of the other items in the British Museum and galleries around the world.

"We appeal to other descendants of soldiers who fought in Benin and who still keep these objects in their homes to emulate Dr Walker's friendly gesture and return the objects in their possession," he added.

Steve Dunstone, of the Richard Lander Society, agreed that Walker's gesture was important and hoped it would prompt a rethink over repatriating other "stolen" treasures from Britain's colonial past.

Most famously, Britain has come under sustained pressure to return the Elgin Marbles, also known as the Parthenon Marbles, to Greece, as well as the 105-carat Koh-i-Noor diamond to India, but has repeatedly resisted.

"Very few people know about the story (of the Benin Bronzes)... It was an injustice that happened that needs to be corrected," said Dunstone, whose Lander group is named after the explorer who travelled to the source of the Niger river and promotes educational and cultural links between Nigeria and Britain.

"I'm sure Mark Walker, with this symbolic gesture, will just start opening the door for other people to release the story and I hope to persuade them to return their bronzes," he added.

© 1994-2014 Agence France-Presse





Today's News

June 23, 2014

Christie's sale in London to offer important group of works by Alberto Giacometti

Art Basel: Outstanding quality attracts private collectors and museum groups from around the world

Whitechapel Gallery and Tate Modern announce a major collaboration celebrating artist Richard Tuttle

Tens of thousands gather at Britain's Stonehenge for solstice at dawn on Saturday

French cave home to earliest drawings wins UN cultural agency UNESCO's World Heritage status

Smithsonian team of digital imaging specialists scans President Obama in 3-D for presidential portrait

In new exhibtion at National Centre for Stage Costumes, high cost of Shakespeare costumes reflects vanity

'Looted' Nigerian art returned to traditional ruler Uku Akpolokpolo Erediauwa I

First comprehensive exhibition of Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies' collections opens

"Cries in the Night: German Expressionist Prints around World War I" opens at the Cincinnati Art Museum

Taiwan's first lady postpones Japan visit over wording of posters promoting exhibition row

Sun Stroke: Miles Ladin's first solo exhibition with Station Independent Projects opens in New York

National Gallery Singapore announces first-ever docudrama on Georgette Chen

Exhibition of new photographs, sculptures and installations by Awol Erizku opens at Hasted Kraeutler

The Unreliable Narrator: Karen Mirza and Brad Butler exhibit at waterside contemporary

Eduardo Momeñe: "Photographies in a certain Space" (1978-2014) on view at Espaciofoto Gallery, Madrid

Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions announces July Interiors Sale

Exhibition of works by Su Xiaobai on view at Almine Rech Gallery, Paris

Art Gallery of Ontario celebrates WorldPride 2014 Toronto with exhibition of queer photography

Elmhurst Art Museum presents "Lifeloggers: Chronicling the Everyday"

The Importance of Being Earnest given by Oscar Wilde to the Governor of Reading Gaol sells at Bonhams

Voyeur: A group show curated by Dina Brodsky opens at Lyons Wier Gallery

Most Popular Last Seven Days



1.- Greece holds breath as skeleton found in Alexander the Great-era tomb at Amphipolis

2.- Spain mourns the death of art collector Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart, Duchess of Alba

3.- Meet the ancestors: Exhibition at Bordeaux gallery reveals faces of prehistoric humans

4.- Getty Foundation and partners launch free of charge online art collection catalogues

5.- Historic photos of dead Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara resurface in small Spanish town

6.- Exhibition showcases the first two 'Poesie' created by Titian following their restoration

7.- O'Keeffe painting sells for more than three times the previous world auction record for any female artist

8.- Crystal Bridges announces the departure of museum President Don Bacigalupi

9.- artnet Auctions offers a later example of Yayoi Kusama's important Infinity-Nets series

10.- 'Degenerate art' should go back to museums: German advisor Jutta Limbach



Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 

Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez - Marketing: Carla Gutiérrez
Special Contributor: Liz Gangemi - Special Advisor: Carlos Amador
Contributing Editor: Carolina Farias

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org theavemaria.org juncodelavega.org facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site