Saturday, October 11, 2014

Art, Looting, Clooneys, and the Elgin Marbles

Phidias?, The Goddess Iris?, The Parthenon, c. 450-40 BC, location; British Museum

The "Elgin Marbles" are back in the news this week, thanks to George Clooney's new bride Amal Alamuddin, who plans to advise Greece on the return of these legendary sculptures which fell from The Parthenon's pediment and frieze on September 26, 1687 during the Sixth Ottoman-Venetian War.

Between 1801-1805, Lord Elgin (Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin), British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire at that time, gathered up the neglected ruins and shipped them with the Ottomans' permission to England, where they were acquired by the British Museum in 1816.   (Such freedom to "relocate" national treasures was not isolated to the Brits during this aggressive imperialist era. Napoleon's troops carried off the famous Medici Venus  in 1800 for France's art collection - as well as plenty of other choice war booty before he too was "relocated" to a British territory, St. Helena, in October 1815.  The Venus de'Medici was returned to Italy in December 1815 .)

Lysippos, Victorious Youth or Athleta di Fano, c. 300-100 BC
Getty Museum

And in the US., we have our looting meshugas in the form of Getty Museum's  Victorious Youth  or Athlete from Fano.  It's legitimate ownership is still in dispute.  That long yarn of ego and intrigue was featured in Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino's book Chasing Aphrodite and in a review of the book on my other blog Beth New York.

Do you think the new Clooney Power Couple can right a wrong that is already two centuries old? If this activist Monuments Man and his spouse can't do it, then who can?

Amal Alamuddin Clooney will meet with the Greek Ministers this week.
Updated October 16th - Negotiations in progress.

Good night, and good luck, Amal,
Beth New York

aka Beth S. Gersh-Nesic, Ph.D.
New York Arts Exchange 

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