The Art of the Personal Object

Eight wall plaques from the royal palace, each approximately 19 inches high, are grouped in the second section of the gallery. With their depictions of kings, chiefs, warriors and courtiers, the plaques served as remembrances of Benin's past and provided illustrations for Benin's oral historians. Commenting on the assemblage, which includes several depictions of the same subject, Bryna Freyer, curator at the museum and organizer of the exhibition, said that "we are delighted to be able to exhibit a significant number of plaques in close proximity to each other, for it gives visitors an opportunity to compare the often subtle differences in the way the scenes are executed."

Plaque with multiple figures
mid 16th-17th century
Edo peoples, Benin Kingdom, Nigeria
Copper alloy
48.6 cm (19 1/8 in.)
85-19-18, gift of Joseph H. Hirshhorn to the Smithsonian Institution in 1979

Back to: NMAfA past exhibits