In 1976, Dover Publications published a reprint of Pitt-Rivers' 'Antique Works of Art from Benin', first published in 1900. This included an Introduction written by Bernard Fagg, transcribed in part below

'Lieutenant-General Augustus Henry Lane-Fox Pitt-Rivers, D.C.L. (Oxon), F.R.S., F.S.A., who died on 4 May, 1900, at the age of seventy-three. was a man of vision and scholarship, whose contribution to archaeological and archaeological field methods as well as to the study of comparative technology and the evolution of material culture, has given him a permanent and unique place in the history of human studies.

This great Victorian, regarded today as the "father of scientific excavation," is also preeminent as the founder of two famous museum collections. ...

... he was forming another carefully chosen collection of archaeological and ethnological objects which were also housed in the museum at Farnham. Soon there was a representative collection of specimens from all parts of the world, and prominent amongst them were the two hundred and forty Benin works of art which the General had bought after the return, in 1897, of the punitive expedition with its war booty ... It should be noted that this collection was purchased through the antique trade, largely from W.D. Webster of Bicester. The General had never visited any part of West Africa nor even taken part in the preparations for the expeditionary force. Indeed he had retired from active service fifteen years before this took place.

Antique Works of Art from Benin was privately published in 1900, and it had just been received from the binders at the time of the General's death. It is a well-illustrated and detailed catalogue of his Benin collection, at that time the second-largest collection of Benin art in the world. H. Ling Roth in his review of the book wrote that it "gives at a glance a bird's eye view of the whole field of Benin art, for an examination of the plates shows that the late General had collected something of almost every phase, many of his articles being of the best." It was one of a great trio of book on Benin which came out at this time. Sir C.H. Read and O.M. Dalton's Antiquities from the City of Benin, published in 1899, and H. Ling Roth's Great Benin, published in 1903, at once became, together with Antique Works of Art from Benin, the standard works on the subject, and they have remained so ever since. ... Pitt-Rivers' work boasts a selection of original pieces better than the two hundred or so bronze plaques which largely comprised the British Museum collection at the time the book was published. ... [Fagg gives new attributions to some pieces identified as being from Benin by Pitt-Rivers]

See here for Pitt-Rivers' own introduction to his published Benin catalogue.

Bibliography for this article

Fagg, Bernard. 1976. 'Introduction' in Augustus Pitt-Rivers 'Antique Works of Art from Benin' Dover Publications, New York

[Transcribed by AP as part of the Rethinking Pitt-Rivers project in June 2010]

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