Pendant of a Portuguese horseman

Edo peoples, Benin kingdom, Nigeria
16th century
Artist Unidentified


Dimensions

Length x width: 12.7 x 12.7 cm (5 x 5 in.)

Accession Number

L-G 7.4.2012

Medium or Technique

Copper alloy

On View

Benin Kingdom Gallery (Gallery 172)

Collections

Africa and Oceania, Jewelry

Classifications

Pendants

This pendant is one of six that display a horse and rider. The rider’s torso and arms are viewed head on, but his lower body and the horse appear in profile. This twisting posture is a rare, dynamic stance in Benin art, one usually associated with foreigners. The horseman’s features and his armor clearly identify him as Portuguese. At his waist is a rapier, and in his right hand he carries a match stick—a forked staff for holding a slow burning match to ignite powder in a cannon.

Provenance

1897, removed from the Benin Royal Palace during the Punitive Expedition by Dr. J.P. Howe; by descent within his family to Captain J.S. Howe, R.E. and then to Mrs. R.M. de Pury; June 20, 1961, Mrs. R. M. de Pury and others sale, Sotheby’s, London, lot 138. 2012, promised gift of Robert Owen Lehman to the MFA.

Credit Line

Robert Owen Lehman Collection