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HOME : Decorative Arts : African Sculptures : Ife Style Bronze Bust of a Nobleman
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Ife Style Bronze Bust of a Nobleman - PF.3623
Origin: Southwestern Nigeria
Circa: 19 th Century AD to 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 22.75" (57.8cm) high x 13" (33.0cm) wide
Catalogue: V19
Collection: African
Medium: Bronze

Location: United States
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The region of Ife in Nigeria has become known for the naturalism of its art in comparison to the stylized art of other African regions. The area also produced terracotta sculptures and works in ivory, clay, wood, bronze, and even in quartz. The Yoruba tribe regarded Ife as their place of origin as told in the creation myths. The craftsmanship of Ife was later passed on to the kingdom of Benin, which being closer to the sea was better known to early European travelers. The later history of Ife is not yet well documented except for the beautiful bronze busts of kings such as this one.

This beautifully sculpted bronze bust of a young nobleman or king is a perfect example of the talented craftsmanship of the area of Ife in Nigeria. His facial expression is one of serenity and confidence, both in himself and in his surroundings. In both hands, he holds two objects that symbolise control and power. He also wears a crown, emphasizing his rank in society.

His neck and chest are draped in traditional jewelry. The vertical carving of the face, emulates the tribal scaring he would have received. The fact that the sculpture is made of metal rather than wood emphasizes its value and the young man's importance as well. The back of the sculpture remains simple, suggesting that the sculpture was meant to be seen frontally and not necessarily in the round.

Ife bronzes are famous worldwide, recalling Greek portrait sculpture, emphasizing muscles, power, facial character, and mystery. Looking at this handsome man, we can understand why.
- (PF.3623)


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