Figure from an Altar Sculpture


This solid cast female figure shown wearing coral beads collars round her neck is a fragment cut from a larger work. The figure may represent the attendant of a queen mother and could have been cut off a sculptural centrepiece for the ancestral altar of a queen mother. The museum’s director Henry Ogg Forbes, who bought this piece for the museum in October 1897 described it as having been 'truncated in the haste of looting' (Bulletin of the Liverpool Museums, 1898, 1(2), p.53). This damaged piece was purchased in October 1897 from A. Hewer who was probably a dealer. Hewer could have acquired it directly from one of the British military personnel who took part in the so-called 'punitive expedition' against Benin in February 1897. Alternatively, he could have acquired it at one of the auctions of loot from Benin that were held in London soon after the return of British troops from Benin in 1897.