Tags: elgin marbles | russia | sculpture

Elgin Marbles Russia: British Museum Lends Statue Amid Ownership Dispute

By    |   Friday, 05 Dec 2014 12:15 PM

One of the Elgin Marbles sculptures made its first-ever trip out of the U.K. this week when it was loaned to Russia as a gesture of good will amid growing tensions between the former Soviets and the West.

"The politics of both museums have been that the more chilly the politics between governments, the more important the relationship between museums," said Neil MacGregor, the director of the British Museum, Reuters reported.

He said the month-long exhibition beginning Saturday at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg "is the first time ever that the people of Russia have been able to see this great moment of European art and European thought." Considering the statue — which portrays a reclining Greek river god Ilissos — was once part of the Acropolis of Athens, he said he hoped the Greek people would also take pride in the new exhibit.

The second statement has long been a sore subject in Greek-British relations, as the former have accused the latter of stealing the statues.

The Earl of Elgin brought the Elgin Marbles to London's famous British Museum in 1816, and was soon accused of looting.

Almost 200 years later, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said that the newly announce loan "provokes the Greek people" and echoed past calls for the statues to be returned to their homeland.

"Greeks identify themselves with their history and their culture, which cannot be parceled out, loaned or given away," he said in a statement.

According to the Daily Mail, lawyer Amal Clooney — wife of actor George Clooney — has been helping the Greek government build a case for the statues' return, and said Britain should be ashamed of itself for keeping them hostage.

MacGregor rebuffed the renewed criticism, arguing that the statues belong to the international community, and are actually more valuable under British care and control.

"When the Parthenon Sculptures came to London it was the first time that they could be seen at eye-level. They stopped being architectural details in the Parthenon and became sculptures in their own right," he said.

"They became part of a different story — of what the human body has meant in world culture. In Athens they would be part of an exclusively Athenian story."

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One of the Elgin Marbles sculptures made its first-ever trip out of the U.K. this week when it was loaned to Russia as a gesture of good will amid growing tensions between the former Soviets and the West.
elgin marbles, russia, sculpture
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2014-15-05
Friday, 05 Dec 2014 12:15 PM
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