AFRICA NOW: Long-Lost Masterpiece Returned to Nigeria

Portrait of Adetutu Ademiluyi (Tutu) (Courtesy of africanews.com)

A portrait of a Nigerian princess that was lost for more than 40 years was recently found inside of a London flat.

“Tutu,” also known as “Black Mona Lisa,” was painted in 1974 by Ben Enwonwu, one of Nigeria’s best-known modern artists. It appeared at an art show in Lagos the following year, but its whereabouts became unknown until it recently resurfaced in north London.

Painted just after the end of the Nigeria-Biafra conflict, Adetutu Ademiluyi (Tutu), was a granddaughter of a revered traditional ruler from the Yoruba ethnic group and her portrait served as a symbol of national reconciliation after the 1967-1970 Biafran War.

The rediscovered painting will now will be sold at an auction screened live in Lagos and is expected to fetch anywhere from $277,000 to upwards of $416,000. The portrait’s original owners did not wish to be identified.

Enwonwu created three versions of the portrait. The other two remain lost, although prints first made in the 1970s have famously been in circulation ever since.

Director of National Art Museum Celebrates First Week

Augustus Casely-Hayford, the new director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art in southwest D.C., finished his first official week at the helm.

Casely-Hayford, a research associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London and a member of its Centre of African Studies Council, said he’s enjoyed his run at the museum thus far.

“It is such an exciting time to be joining the team at the National Museum of African Art,” he said. “African art is at another fascinating juncture as artists reconfigure our understanding of the medium, helping us to chart courses through the big issues of our time while reminding us of the complex and long historical tradition upon which they stand.”

The National Museum of African Art is the only museum in the United States dedicated to the collection, conservation, study, and exhibition of Africa’s arts across time period, geography and medium. The museum’s collection features over 12,000 artworks from across the African continent with a variety of media.

D.C. Native Sings Songs of Africa

D.C. native Uasuf Gueye will pay homage to Africa this month with special performances at the Strathmore in Maryland.

On Feb. 14 and again on Feb. 28, the nearly two-hour concert will creatively blend Manding and Wolof West African beats, blues, jazz and smooth rhythms, with a bonus Valentine’s Day musical number that also included a repertoire of traditional love songs once played for royalty of the Manding Empire of Mali.

Born in D.C. and raised in the southeast community of Hillcrest, Gueye is an Artist in Residence at the Strathmore, which cultivates amateur performers to career artists and belongs to a family of Nguewel/Diali (oral historians and musicians).

Gueye began his study and performance of Manding and Wolof music at a very young age and has performed at the Smithsonian, the Gullah Festival (South Carolina), Dance Africa (Washington, D.C., Dallas, New York, and Denver), the Kennedy Center and the Lincoln Theatre.

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About Lauren M. Poteat 239 Articles
Lauren Poteat is a versatile writer with a strong background in communications and media experience with an additional background in education and development.

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