I personally don't have any experience in the techniques used to patinate and age these metal objects. I have seen very convincing works that are very similar to documented pieces and also works that are much less convincing.
When I was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY last year I took a few photos of the Benin plaques and objects while I was there. My primary interest in these particular objects was the fact that they were probably 19th Century and I wanted to see what the surface of the metal looked like on these objects.
Much to my surprise, it looked as if the surfaces of the objects had been cleaned. They didn't look like I thought they might, but it didn't really surprise me too much because often times objects were cleaned and polished when they were brought into Europe and the US early on from what I've read.
Images of these Benin objects can be seen on Page 2 of
my virtual tour of the Metropolitan Museum on my website. You can click on the images to see larger versions.
It's my opinion that along with the extremely high prices some of the Benin works are bringing at auction these days also comes the more advanced techniques of casting and aging these objects. I don't have any personal experience with these techniques, nor have I had an opportunity to look at a really well made recent example that has applied patination.
Recent Sotheby's examples (not all photos are working on their site)
An excellent article "Casting in Contemporary Benin" is online, and on about page 7 of the article it starts to talk about "Production Technology" and patination techniques, if you haven't read the article I think you'll find it very interesting.
Another excellent article that is online is "Art and Science in Benin Bronzes"
Also, if you can get your hands on the Summer and Autumn 1997 issue of African Arts, they are almost completely devoted to articles on historical to contemporary Benin art, they are a wealth of information and in some instances they show some newer pieces but the photos are generally B&W. They also go over some of the history after the 1897 British punitive expedition which is interesting because it talks about the continued production of these objects, both for tourism and continued traditional purposes.
armblanke2 <armblanke2@...> wrote:
I came across the Plaque in the picture in Johannesburg, South
Africa. I have come across many pieces of Nigerian Bronze in
Johannesburg as there is quite an active market, mostly tourism here.
Many pieces are fakes or modern reproductions (some from Cameroon).
Its quite easy to spot these fakes as they look a bit different and
the quality is not the same. One can also spot that a specific
technique has been used to make the pieces look old. Even though it
might look convincing to a tourist, it is quite clear to spot the
difference when you compare it against a geniune piece.
Have you had any experience in the techniques used to age
From what I have seen, its clear to spot, but was wondering if there
are more advance techniques being used?
Has anyone come across a bronze plaque that has been recently produced
and aged to make it look convincing? From what I have seen, this
could be done with Nok's and wood carvings, but is way more difficult
with bronze plaques.
Keen to here comments on my views.