Africa by Manuel Oliver

  • Description

  • Work's History

The figure of Africa that Manuel Oliver created for the courtyard of the Llotja is a woman with a face displaying negroid features. Her only clothing is a lion’s skin from which there emerge a claw and the animal’s head; on her head she wears a helmet topped by an elephant’s head; in her left hand she holds a horn of plenty. She is leaning against the trunk of a palm tree laden with dates.

For the Romans, the elephant was Africa’s most characteristic animal, and the lion is another of the most representative species of the continent’s fauna. The horn of plenty is intended to symbolise Africa’s natural richness and fertility.

«He wears the skull of an elephant to appear in this way like a medal from emperor Hadrian. This animal comes from Africa and even its people take it with them to war.» Cesare Ripa, Iconologia

In the four corners of the courtyard of the Llotja there are niches with statues representing Europe, Asia, Africa and America. Pere Pau Muntanya’s iconographic project for the Llotja could not be without the allegories of the continents. This was a recurrent theme in Spanish art of the second half of the 18th century, which must be interpreted as a manifestation of the political power the Spanish monarchs wielded over parts of these territories. The symbolism and attributes with which Francesc Bover and Manuel Oliver represented the four continents denote an ethnocentric vision of the world, a vision that proclaims Europe’s superiority in all respects over Africa and America, but with more nuances in relation with Asia. The figure representing Africa is the work of Manuel Oliver.


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Author's works
at the Llotja de Mar

  • Africa

    Manuel Oliver 
  • America

    Manuel Oliver