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African Art
Artist: Osei Bonsu, Ghanaian, 1900–1977

Counselor’s Staff Finial

ca. 1950

Wood and gold leaf

17 1/2 × 4 5/8 × 4 1/2 in. (44.45 × 11.748 × 11.43 cm)
Charles B. Benenson, B.A. 1933, Collection
Born in Kumasi, Ghana, Osei Bonsu was introduced to carving at a young age by his father, a drummer and carver. Showing great skill, Bonsu produced highly mature sculptural works early in his career and, when he was in his teens, received commissions from several chiefs along the Gold Coast (present-day Ghana). Beginning in 1920, Bonsu, along with his older brother and father, was hired as an interpreter by the British anthropologist Captain R. S. Rattray and traveled extensively with him. In 1924, when Bonsu’s father and brother journeyed to England for the British Empire Exhibition, Bonsu remained home and continued to develop his workshop. He taught carving at several colonial schools between 1933 and 1956, producing works for various courts until his death.
Guinea Coast, Ghana
On view
20th century
Tools and Equipment

Possibly Merton D. Simpson, New York, 1984. Possibly Samir Borro, Brussels and Paris.
Possibly Michael Kan.Possibly Wright Gallery, New York, early 1990's.Charles B. Benenson Collection, Greenwich, Conn; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.


Allen F. Roberts, Animals in African Art: from the Familiar to the Marvelous, exh. cat. (New York: Museum for African Art, 1995), 178-179, no. 138, ill.

“Sotheby’s advertisement,” Arts d’Afrique Noire 58 (1986): 30.

“Acquisitions, July 1, 2005–June 30, 2006,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2006): 222.

Frederick John Lamp, Amanda Maples, and Laura M. Smalligan, Accumulating Histories: African Art from the Charles B. Benenson Collection at the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2012), 161, ill.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.