Project Title

Animal Imagery in Carved Elephant Ivories from the Steckelmann collection

Presenters

Alexis LyonsFollow

Academic department under which the project should be listed

COTA - Art and Design

Faculty Sponsor Name

Jessica Stephenson

Abstract (300 words maximum)

This research involves an analysis and discussion of select animal imagery featured on 27 carved elephant ivory tusk sculptures from the Steckelmann collection housed at the Cincinnati Art Museum. The carved ivories where commissioned by Carl Steckelmann, a German American trader from Indiana who had worked along the coast of equatorial and central Africa in the 1880s and 1890s. Steckelmann’s collection of nearly 1,300 objects was acquired by the museum in 1890 and is the oldest collection of African art in a US art museum. To date the 27 ivory carvings collected by Steckelmann have not been extensively studied or published. The carved tusks show some form of the 19th century transatlantic slave trade and/or the emerging early colonial French and Belgian factory economy and the impact these practices had on the region the ivories came from, namely the Loango Coast. Scattered within the scenes of human labor, industry and violence are numerous images of various African animals. My research, a year-long project which I am conducting as a First Year Scholar in collaboration with my mentor, an art history professor, entails compiling an encyclopedic inventory of animal types represented within the collection, determining the most frequently depicted animals and then exploring their possible symbolism for the 19th century Africans artists versus what they may represent for the European or American patron.

Project Type

Event

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 

Animal Imagery in Carved Elephant Ivories from the Steckelmann collection

This research involves an analysis and discussion of select animal imagery featured on 27 carved elephant ivory tusk sculptures from the Steckelmann collection housed at the Cincinnati Art Museum. The carved ivories where commissioned by Carl Steckelmann, a German American trader from Indiana who had worked along the coast of equatorial and central Africa in the 1880s and 1890s. Steckelmann’s collection of nearly 1,300 objects was acquired by the museum in 1890 and is the oldest collection of African art in a US art museum. To date the 27 ivory carvings collected by Steckelmann have not been extensively studied or published. The carved tusks show some form of the 19th century transatlantic slave trade and/or the emerging early colonial French and Belgian factory economy and the impact these practices had on the region the ivories came from, namely the Loango Coast. Scattered within the scenes of human labor, industry and violence are numerous images of various African animals. My research, a year-long project which I am conducting as a First Year Scholar in collaboration with my mentor, an art history professor, entails compiling an encyclopedic inventory of animal types represented within the collection, determining the most frequently depicted animals and then exploring their possible symbolism for the 19th century Africans artists versus what they may represent for the European or American patron.