TIAMSA Member News: PUB – Ein neuer Beitrag zur Gruppe der luso-afrikanischen Elfenbeinobjekte: der sapi-portugiesische Olifant aus der Kunstsammlung der Wartburg.

Wartburg-Jahrbuch, 28 (2018), pp. 59-78.* by L. U. Afonso, G. Jacobs.

This paper introduces a new oliphant into the corpus of Luso-African ivories (also known as Afro-Portuguese). Comprising c.200 known objects, namely spoons, oliphants and salt-cellars, these ivories were produced in the early 16th century in the coast of Serra Leoa (Guinea and Sierra Leone) and in the former kingdom of Benin (South of Nigeria). They were carved by African sculptors using a mix of African and European iconography, including Portuguese heraldry and mottos. The majority is now preserved in museums located all over the world, but many are still in private collections. From time to time, these objects are traded at auction or by antiques dealers. Those of higher quality, or of particular rarity, can easily reach £1-2 millions.

This paper includes a brief description of this previously unpublished oliphant, its contextualization among a small group of seven known Luso-African oliphants produced in Serra Leoa, and its known ownership history in Germany. Particular attention is given to its incorporation into the Wartburg Castle collection in 1869, founded by Grand Duke Charles Alexander von Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (1818-1901). The authors were able to show that this object came from the collection of Friedrich Carl Freiherr Zu Rhein (1802-1870), which was auctioned in 1869 by Carl Friedrich Förster, chairman of the Munich Antiquity Association.

About the authors: Luís U. Afonso is Associate Professor at Lisbon University and Grit Jacobs is curator of the Wartburg Castle collection.

*Published in November 2019 in the volume 28 (2018) of the Wartburg-Jahrbuch.