Gallery Asset

A Seated Porguese merchant

This tiny figure of a seated Portuguese man is a type of cast brass sculpture displayed on royal ancestral altars within the palace compound. It may have originally been a component of a larger work, now lost, such as an altar tableau (aseberia) or a brass altar to the hand (ikegobo). Benin’s artists found the Portuguese physically different and initially quite unfamiliar, and exaggerated generic aspects of the European face they found distinctive and representative, such as the large, beaklike nose, long hair, and large moustache and beard. The subject’s costume is particularly interesting: the high-crowned hat, buttoned doublet with flared shoulders, patterned sleeves, ruffled collar, breeches, and boots are all faithfully rendered.

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Type: photo
Date: 1700s
Location: Benin, Nigeria
Continent: Africa
Keywords: fashion, clothing, king