Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Print - X. The Gallery

X. The Gallery

  • Object:

    Print

  • Place of origin:

    United Kingdom (made)

  • Date:

    1984 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Phillips, Tony, born 1952 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Etching, printed in blue

  • Museum number:

    E.57-1987

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E, case MP, shelf 225

In 1897, following a series of frustrated attempts to end a monopoly on palm oil and various other commodities held by the Oba (king) of Benin, the British led a punitive raid on Benin City. Justification for this brutal event was sought, in the British press, by depicting the Oba and his people as ‘savages’ who practised human sacrifice. However, the elaborately carved ivories and cast brass plaques and sculpture seized from the royal court, and dispersed to British museum collections, were evidence of a sophisticated and technologically-advanced society.

This unsavoury aspect of British history was reflected on by artist Tony Phillips in a 1984 series of etchings, History of the Benin Bronzes. In the series, Phillips adopts the unusual technique of reusing a printing plate to create a second image, with elements of the first image still visible. Thus, in this image, the tenth in the series of twelve plates, we revisit two of the commemorative brass heads first pictured in scene one (E.48-1987) to find them encased in glass in a museum gallery. The schematic way in which the museum environment is depicted emphasises the means by which the heads have been forcibly removed from their original context.

Physical description

Etching depicting two of the commemorative brass heads first pictured in scene one (E.48-1987), now encased in glass in a museum gallery.

Place of Origin

United Kingdom (made)

Date

1984 (made)

Artist/maker

Phillips, Tony, born 1952 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Etching, printed in blue

Dimensions

Height: 21.4 cm, Width: 26.8 cm

Descriptive line

'The Gallery', etching from the series 'History of the Benin Bronzes', Tony Phillips, 1984

Subjects depicted

Sculpture; Gallery

Categories

Black History

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.