Query: *
Chief S.O. Alonge photographic collection
Alonge, Solomon Osagie, Chief, 1911-1994
100 Photographic prints (black and white, hand-colored.)
4 Photographic albums
1800 Negatives (photographic) (120 mm.)
150 Negatives (photographic) (glass plate)
Collection ID:
Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives, National Museum of African Art

The collection consists of approximately 1,950 glass plate and large format film negatives,100 hand-tinted and black-and-white prints and four photographic albums containing prints of various sizes, taken by Chief Solomon Osagie Alonge, the royal photographer to the Oba of Benin, Akenzua II (1933-1978). These images span six decades (1926 - 1989) and represent a dynamic, continuous record of the Benin Royal Court in Nigeria. Alonge documented the pageantry, ritual and regalia of the Obas, their wives and retainers for over a half-century, including the coronation of the King and the Iyoba, or queen mother. The collection also documents historic visits to Benin by Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip (1956), Princess Alexandra (1960), foreign dignitaries, traditional rulers, political leaders and celebrities. The collection preserves an important historical record of Benin art and culture during the periods of British colonial rule and Nigerian independence in the 20th century. The rarity and historical value of the collection are enhanced by Alonge's privileged access to the Palace as a chief in the Iwebo Palace Society, a position which presents a unique insider's view of Benin royalty. The quality of the collection is testament to Alonge's technological skills in photography and his professionalism in keeping the collection ordered and well-preserved despite the heat, humidity and tropical climate of Nigeria.