Skip Navigation


Hew Locke

Contemporary Art

Hew Locke constructed Koh-i-noor, one of three monumental portraits of Queen Elizabeth, out of hundreds of kitschy plastic toys and trinkets, disposable products of the new global economy. The bristling blades of toy sabers suggest might and power. With this work, Locke, who was born in Britain and raised in Guyana, explores tensions between contemporary British society and its colonial past. The title refers to the Koh-i-noor diamond, a legendary treasure dating back to fourteenth-century India. Once the largest diamond in the world, it passed through the hands of Sikh, Mughal, and Persian rulers as a highly prized spoil of war. In 1877 the British government declared Queen Victoria the Empress of India, and the diamond entered the British Crown Jewels collection.
MEDIUM Mixed media
DATES 2005
DIMENSIONS 116 x 86 x 25 in. (294.6 x 218.4 x 63.5 cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Contemporary Art
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CREDIT LINE Gift of Charles Diamond and bequest of Richard J. Kempe, by exchange
The Brooklyn Museum holds a non-exclusive license to reproduce images of this work of art from the rights holder named here. The Museum does not warrant that the use of this work will not infringe on the rights of third parties. It is your responsibility to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions before copying, transmitting, or making other use of protected items beyond that allowed by "fair use," as such term is understood under the United States Copyright Act. For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress, Cornell University, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums, and Copyright Watch. For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright. If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact If you wish to contact the rights holder for this work, please email and we will assist if we can.
CAPTION Hew Locke (Scottish, born 1959). Koh-i-noor, 2005. Mixed media, 116 x 86 x 25 in. (294.6 x 218.4 x 63.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Charles Diamond and bequest of Richard J. Kempe, by exchange, 2007.54. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: Image courtesy of Hew Locke (Photo: FXP Photography), CUR2007.54.jpg)
IMAGE overall, CUR2007.54.jpg. Image courtesy of Hew Locke (Photo: FXP Photography), 2020
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome any additional information you might have.