The Easel

23rd March 2021

Germany moves toward full restitution of Benin bronzes

A significant moment. After widespread procrastination, Germany has become the first nation to commence “full restitution” of its Benin bronzes. These artifacts – statues, plaques, ivory carvings, made over hundreds of years – were looted by British soldiers in 1897 in Benin (southern Nigeria). Says one curator, “Benvenuto Cellini could not have made a better cast. [They are] at the summit of what can be technically achieved”.  An excellent backgrounder is here.

16th March 2021

Detective who found Munch’s Scream and Irish Vermeer stolen by Martin Cahill dies at 73

Light relief. Art detectives, like the thieves they chase, enjoy a certain mystique. Hill’s back story – an Oxford educated Scotland Yard detective – may only enhance that romantic image. The anecdotes are splendid and the list of artworks he helped recover impressive. His views on the thieves are interesting – “there is a madness that afflicts these people”.