five Centuries of Royal Art

This catalogue, called Benin, Five Centuries of Royal Art, was produced by the Museum für Völkerkunde (ethnology museum) in Vienna, and provides a survey of the masterpieces of art in the royal court at Benin, which lay in the south of today’s Nigeria.

This reference book comprises more than 500 pages and was published to accompany this huge retrospective exhibition. It includes a presentation on local traditions in Nigeria, and provides an account of recent research in this field, while offering an analysis of the objects in the exhibition, that includes historical and cultural, symbolic and iconographic aspects that are of crucial importance to the identity of the Kingdom of Benin.

It provides a perfect mirror to this exhibition, which has brought together, for the first time in Europe, collections that are principally based in the UK, Germany and Austria. Taken as a whole, these artworks constitute a remarkable historical unity that offers a huge panorama of the art and culture of the Kingdom of Benin.

Magnificent bronzes and ivory sculptures, which represent some of mankind’s greatest treasures and constitute major items from museums around the whole world, have been placed at the heart of the exhibition, which included maps, manuscripts and travellers’ chronicles, all of which give the reader an idea of the immense wealth of Nigeria’s past.


536 pages in 24.5 cm x 29.5 cm format

530 colour illustrations

price: 55 €

Isbn 978-2-915133-62-2

Published by the musée du quai Branly

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exhibition curator

Barbara Plankensteiner, Director of the African Collections in Museum für Völkerkunde in Vienna

curator of the exhibition in Paris

Yves Le Fur, joint director of the Heritage and Collections Department at the Quai Branly Museum.


21 international experts (Germany, UK, Austria, Benin, France, Nigeria..) constitute the collective authorship of this compilation.


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