The Benin Plaques: A 16th Century Imperial Monument, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Benin Plaques

A 16th Century Imperial Monument, 1st Edition

By Kathryn Wysocki Gunsch


246 pages | 179 B/W Illus.

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The 16th century bronze plaques from the kingdom of Benin are among the most recognized masterpieces of African art, and yet many details of their commission and installation in the palace in Benin City, Nigeria, are little understood. The Benin Plaques, A 16th Century Imperial Monument is a detailed analysis of a corpus of nearly 850 bronze plaques that were installed in the court of the Benin kingdom at the moment of its greatest political power and geographic reach. By examining European accounts, Benin oral histories, and the physical evidence of the extant plaques, Gunsch is the first to propose an installation pattern for the series.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figures


Chapter One: Introduction

Chapter Two: A Short History of Benin Art and Politics

Chapter Three: Threat and Creativity: The Political Context for Esigie’s Commission

Chapter Four: Remembrance and Memorial: Methods of Commemoration in Benin

Chapter Five: Patterns of Authorship and the Architectural Frame

Chapter Six: The Installation of the Plaque Corpus under Esigie and Orhogbua


Annex 1: Plaques by Flange-Pattern Category

Annex 2: Illustration of Flange Pattern Sub-Types

Annex 3: Views of Palace Reconstruction

Annex 4: List of Plaques by Institution



About the Author

Kathryn Wysocki Gunsch is Department Head and Teel Curator for the Arts of Africa and Oceania at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

About the Series

Routledge Research in Art History

Routledge Research in Art History is our home for the latest scholarship in the field of art history. The series publishes research monographs and edited collections, covering areas including art history, theory, and visual culture. These high-level books focus on art and artists from around the world and from a multitude of time periods. By making these studies available to the worldwide academic community, the series aims to promote quality art history research.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / General
ART / History / General
ART / African
ART / Art & Politics
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Africa / Central
HISTORY / Europe / General
HISTORY / Modern / 16th Century