July 25, 2024


Art Shines Through

Denver Art Museum removes stolen 400-year-old artifact from its collection

The Denver Art Museum has removed a bronze plaque from its collection immediately after finding that it was probable stolen from the Kingdom of Benin, located in contemporary day Nigeria, all through a British raid in 1897.

In accordance to museum officials, the plaque, believed to be at the very least 400 yrs outdated, was taken by Commissioner of the British Southern Nigeria Protectorate, Sir Ralph Moor, and was included to the British Overseas Service’s assortment. In 1955, the piece was purchased by the Carlebach Gallery in New York before getting added to the Denver Artwork Museum’s assortment. 

“The royal palace of the oba or king of Benin was adorned with hundreds of elaborately ornamented plaques, these kinds of as this a person, telling the tale of court docket lifetime. Cast in the lost wax procedure by a remarkably competent artisan, this plaque has the figure of a courtroom nobleman or probably a main demonstrating details of his regalia, including his helmet, an elaborate coral necklace, embroidered skirt, belt, and anklets,” the plaque’s description reads. 

The museum is currently in possession of 11 artwork pieces from Benin. The kingdom in the end fell thanks to British colonialism. 

“Study for added specifics about the plaque was recently accomplished, and these points led the museum to consider the initial phase in repatriating the work by deaccessioning (formally removing) it from the assortment before this month,” claimed Denver Artwork Museum spokesperson Andy Sinclair. 

The plaque and a small bronze pendant were the two decided to be from 16th or 17th century Benin, which would set them there for the duration of the raid of 1897. An investigation into the pendent is ongoing and will ascertain its position. 

“The museum will go on to act in fantastic faith as a global husband or wife on matters of artwork repatriation and restitution. To day the museum has not been contacted by anyone in Nigeria about these functions or requests for their return,” Sinclair said. 

In 2021, a legal action was taken in opposition to the museum to return four stolen artwork items to Cambodia. 

Officers responded to that condition with the following:

“Working in collaboration with U.S. and Cambodian governments, the Denver Artwork Museum today announces that 4 works from Cambodia formerly deaccessioned from its selection have been picked up from the Denver Art Museum by U.S. officials for return to Cambodia. The items entered the museum’s selection somewhere around 20 several years ago, 3 as gifts and a single as a buy from Douglas Latchford.”

In months prior to his 2020 loss of life, Latchford was accused of smuggling and trafficking stolen Cambodian antiquities.

Keep Informed: Sign-up for the every day OutThere Colorado e-newsletter here