Fragments of leopard altar figure

About this object

Before 3 May 1941, this bronze altar figure of a leopard was majestic. It featured as a key object in the museum’s 1931 catalogue of the African collection (see image below).

Before it arrived at the museum the leopard had already survived a great trauma. It had been taken from its altar in the city of Benin by Dr Felix Roth, a member of a British force sent there on a ‘punitive expedition’. The British invaded Benin City in 1897, looting and ransacking the city before the army left. Dr Roth sold looted objects including the leopard to the museum on his return to England in December 1897.

In 1941 the leopard was on display in the basement gallery dedicated to Africa. The basement was badly damaged in the fire. The fire was so intense that it melted some of the Benin bronzes still on display.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
    Edo [Bini]
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Africa: Western Africa: Nigeria: Southern Nigeria: Benin City
  • Date made
    1897 before
  • Materials
    Glass; Copper Alloy; Enamel
  • Location
    Item not currently on display
  • Acquisition
    Purchased From F. Roth, 1897
  • Collector
    Felix Roth
  • Place collected
    Africa: Western Africa: Nigeria: Southern Nigeria: Benin City
  • Date collected
  • Measurements
  • Note
    This leopard aquamanile was damaged in the heat of the fire that consumed the Liverpool Museum after it was bombed in 1941. Said to have been "found" (sic) with "on the altar of a dwelling house" in Benin by Dr F. Roth.
  • Related people
    Felix Roth ( Collector)
Object view = Humanities
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