Royalty and statesmen

The Danish royal inspects one of the pieces which he has selected for To Gods, Spirits and Ancestors Art from Africa - the special exhibition to celebrate his milestone year

This eye-catching mask from the Igbo people of Nigera is just one of the 200 colourful acquisitions which will go on display

Prince Henrik shares exotic African art collection to mark 75th birthday

1 MAY 2009
Ever since he was a child Prince Henrik has been fascinated by African art. So to celebrate his 75th birthday the spouse of Queen Margrethe of Denmark decided to give art fans a glimpse at favourite pieces from the extensive collection he's built up over the years.

The France-born royal - who celebrates his milestone birthday on June 11 - has selected 200 sculptures and masks to feature in a special exhibition entitled To Gods, Spirits And Ancestors Art From Africa.

Highlights in the collection, many items from which date back to the late 19th and early 20th century, include a white-faced mask from the Igbo people of Nigeria and his first acquisition, a beautiful Baoule sculpture he picked up in Paris in the Fifties.

Baoule figurines, which are made by a tribe on the Ivory Coast, are highly sought after. Representing a guardian spirit and bearing tribal marks on the face and body, they are much prized by African art connoisseurs.

The pieces, which form the most comprehensive collection of African art in Denmark, will go on display at the Gammel Holtgaard modern art museum in Holte, 20 miles north of Copenhagen, from May 2 to July 26.

They'll then return to their place in the royal couple's private apartments at Fredensborg Palace.

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