Carved Wooden Leopard
This carved wooden leopard is a work of art from the Kingdom of Benin, in present day Nigeria. Within the beliefs of the Kingdom of Benin, leopards were important animals.
This painting of the Virgin Mary and Child was bought by Percy Powell-Cotton in the town of Gondar, Ethiopia in May 1900. The painting came from a local Coptic (Ethiopian Orthodox) church, but the style of the painting tells us it had a long journey to get there.
This small panel, known as an icon, actually originated in Cyprus, and would have been associated with The Holy Monastery of the Virgin of Kykkos, which was founded at the end of the 11th century. The original painting of the Virgin of Kykkos is still housed in the monastery today and is believed to have been painted in her lifetime by the apostle Luke.
The version on display in the Powell-Cotton Museum was probably painted in the late 18th or early 19th century. The icon was revered internationally and lots of versions of the Virgin of Kykkos were painted. Today they exist all over Europe but this one is unusual in having made it so far from Cyprus – north Africa.
Finding this painting so far from its place of origin reminds us the world we live in has been truly global for hundreds of years.