Volume III, Number 1 - Fall 2008

Broken Noses and Missing Limbs

Broken Noses and Missing Limbs

October 30th, 2008  |  Published in Art & Democracy, Current Topics

Today the Elgin Marbles remain locked in a tussle between Britain and Greece, both with claims to its patrimony. Yet the British were not always so keen on these world-famous statues.

Trace the development of Britain’s interest in the Elgin Marbles and how a curious mix of democracy, art, and Romanticism led to their purchase.

“Grecian Grandeurs and the Rude Wasting of Old Time”: Britain, the Elgin Marbles, and Post-Revolutionary Hellenism

Christopher Casey

University of California, Berkeley

Today the works of Phidias, the likely sculptor of the marble statuary that graced the pediments of the Parthenon, find their home behind the Greek-revival façade of the Great Russell Street entrance to the British Museum. There, one can admire the hundreds of feet of frieze arranged inversely to their location on the Parthenon, which allows their narrative to still be read. One can also marvel at what is often deemed the gem of the collection: the pedimental sculpture of Dionysos (which at the time of the purchase of the statuary was thought to be a representation of Thesseus and thus will be referred to as such from here forward). The nude Thesseus is a tribute to the physiological knowledge of its Greek sculptors, its naturalistic musculature replicated perfectly. Lacking feet and forearms, the Thesseus remains in the ruined state in which it was found, its time-scarred face a testament to its age. Thesseus leans against three unidentified goddesses, their heads long since lost to the ravages of time. The goddesses’s sheer robes pour over their forms in heavy pleats and waves. This quaint quartet of figures, Thesseus and the three goddesses, had once made their home on the left side of the eastern pediment of the Parthenon. The figures themselves stand in contrast to the ordered beau- ideal of the Apollo Belvedere or the Venus De Medici, the examples cited as the perfection of form throughout the eighteenth century.

In 1983, Melina Mercouri, the Greek Minister of Culture, made a plea to Britain for the return of the Parthenon Marbles. She asserted passionately that the sculptures were “[…] the soul of the Greek people.” Yet these sculptures served as national symbols to more than just Greece. In many ways the marbles were national symbols for their adopted parents just as much as they are for those in present-day Greece who passionately call for their return. While the people of Britain were initially reluctant to adopt these “maim’d antiques,” they were soon whole-heartedly embraced, first by the artistic community and then by Britain as a whole. The history of how these marvels ended up in London is a controversial and intriguing tale. Yet buried within this tale is another story, the story of a cultural shift within Britain and of the gradual embrace of Romanticism.

Of course, one must be cautious not to find sudden or great transitions where, perhaps, there are none. This paper does not assert that Romanticism as an ideology suddenly and mysteriously appeared in the years leading up to and following the conclusion of the wars of the French Revolution. Indeed, the origins of what would later be termed Romanticism are well-embedded in the eighteenth century. What this paper intends to argue is that the purchase of Lord Elgin’s collection of sculptured marbles was a result of that last necessary grain of sand tumbling onto the scales of ideology, tilting them for the first time in favor of Romanticism. The reason behind the decision to purchase the marbles was that the elites of Britain, having emerged from the terrible turbulence of the French Revolution, had become both historically conscious and socially uneasy, and as a result, began to look backward in order to interpret the tumultuous events of the era. The emphasis in British schools on the instruction of Greek and Latin, moreover, ensured that the most readily available vocabulary to describe these confused events was that of antiquity. These circumstances would lead to subtext of early nineteenth-century Romanticism that found itself intently focused on nearly everything Greek.

The Rise of Romanticism

Romanticism as a movement is often considered to have emerged in the mid-eighteenth century as a counterforce to the Rationalism of the Enlightenment era. While extremely difficult to characterize, the Romantic Movement was marked first and foremost by a reverence for the mysteries of the natural world. Rather than trying to explain or rationalize the world itself, those who later would be deemed Romantics embraced its mystery and grandeur. This departure from the Enlightenment’s emphasis on rationality meant that many of those in the Romantic generation found themselves ideologically split over the upheavals of the French Revolution. In politics, this can be seen in the writings of Edmund Burke, who asserted that the revolutionaries were mistaken in assuming they could impose a contrived government. In his Reflections on the Revolution in France, Burke chastised the revolutionaries for not allowing their government to emerge naturally as a result of long-standing habits and traditions of compromise. This philosophy, just one of many perspectives on the politics of the era, was, as a result of its seeming support of the status quo, necessarily conservative. But, at the same time it did not preclude change. Burke also praised the early revolutionary attempts to impose constitutional restraints upon the French Monarchy as being part of a slow, natural, and ultimately just advance toward more perfect governance; he was for change and democratization, but slowly and within a natural evolutionary framework.1 Burke’s work displayed the necessary tensions within Romanticism: it was conservative yet liberal, it was about moving forward, but with an eye firmly fixed on the past.

In the visual arts, Romanticism manifested itself in the exultation of precedent while at the same time breaking free of the academic restraints that had produced the historical and formalized compositions of painters like Poussin and David. Moreover, the Romantic emphasis on the reverence of nature led to an infatuation with its seemingly inevitable triumph over the artificial constructs of man, which manifested itself in the newfound attraction to ruined buildings and battlefields. It also led to an affinity for truthful, naturalistic depictions of life and people.2 It was theis growing influence of Romantic concerns that led to the debate about, and ultimately the purchase of, Lord Elgin’s collection of the Parthenon sculptures.

Elgin’s Acquisition of the Marbles

In December of 1798 Thomas Bruce, the Seventh Earl of Elgin and Eleventh Earl of Kincardine, was appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of His Britannic Majesty to the Sublime Porte of Selim III, Sultan of Turkey. Upon his departure for the assignment, Lord Elgin decided to undertake a survey of the Temple of Minerva (the Parthenon) at Athens with the expressed intention of bringing back casts and sketches that might serve to improve the general “taste” in Britain. To accomplish this task he enlisted several artists to work beneath the Neapolitan court painter Giovani Lusieri, whom Lord Elgin employed en route to his post at Constantinople. 3

During his tenure as ambassador, Lord Elgin was granted a firman, an official decree, giving him freedom of movement on the Acropolis in Athens. A translation from an Italian copy was presented before a parliamentary select subcommittee as evidence of Elgin’s authority for removing the sculptures, and ordered, “that no one meddle with [the] scaffolding or implements [of Lord Elgin’s workers], nor hinder them from taking away any pieces of stone with inscriptions or figures.” 4 Lord Elgin soon decided to take a liberal reading of the permissions granted him and began to remove hundreds of tons of sculptured material from the Parthenon and its surrounding structures.

Although it was not his initial intention to remove the Parthenon sculptures from their intended resting place, Elgin soon became aware of circumstances that made him eager to spirit away the Grecian grandeurs. While conducting some of his initial surveys, he began to query the local inhabitants concerning the locations of several pieces of statuary that had been documented in a survey carried out in the seventeenth century by the Marquis de Nointel.5 His questions received some shocking and disheartening responses—according to a Turkish local, the statues that had fallen off the sanctuary were burned for lime to make the mortar used in the modern buildings that dotted the Acropolis.6

By 1801, removal of the sculptured material from the Parthenon commenced under the guidance of Lusieri, and concluded 11 years later in 1812. Altogether, during the years he funded excavation and removal, Lord Elgin acquired 247 feet of the frieze, 15 metopes, and 17 pedimental sculptures. The pedimental sculptures, which in many ways turned out to be the most important pieces of the collection, were themselves heavily damaged—in many cases the only major feature recoverable was the torso. The acquisition of the sculptured material left Lord Elgin with a burdensome debt to various creditors amounting to £74,240, and in 1811 he began pressuring the British Government to acquire his collection (which he had always intended to leave to the public). 7 After extensive parliamentary hearings the House of Commons, in June 1816, granted £35,000 to Lord Elgin in exchange for the sculptures. 8

The British Government, however, had not always been keen on Lord Elgin’s self-appointed mission of bettering the tastes of the country. Before departing in 1799, Lord Elgin had approached Lord Grenville, William Pitt, and Charles Dundas to inquire as to whether the government of Great Britain would be interested in employing the best British artists to take casts and drawings of the sculptured portions of the Parthenon. As Lord Elgin so bluntly phrased it in his testimony before the select subcommittee, “the answer of the Government […] was entirely negative.” 9

The British government’s lack of interest in obtaining the sculptures of the Parthenon became manifest again when, in 1811, Lord Elgin began preliminary negotiations for the sale of his collection to the British Museum. While there was a significant increase in interest since Elgin’s first overtures on the subject in 1799, the negotiations languished and eventually collapsed during the public uproar that followed the assassination of Spencer Perceval on 11 May 1812. 10 The stagnation of the issue in the House of Commons in the months leading up to the assassination reveals a great deal about the attitudes in the House of Commons toward the sculptures; had the government really wanted the collection, it seems likely they would have immediately concluded their negotiations with Lord Elgin—a reasonable expectation considering there had been a precedent for such expenditures. In June 1805, Parliament had voted to purchase the late William Townley’s collection of sculptured marbles for £20,000.11 However, Townley’s collection of Greco-Roman statuary, when compared with Elgin’s “misshapen monuments,” had been relatively intact. The statuary of Townley’s collection was free of structural damage, the individual sculptures retaining most of their extremities, which made them as antiques as much a demonstration of ideal beauty as their intended form was. Moreover, his collection had also met with the approval of the dilettanti, the antiquarians whose judgments of quality were often governed by Britain’s “leading” antiquarian, Richard Payne Knight. , who was an ardent adversary of the acquisition of the Elgin Marbles. Therefore, Ddespite many persuasive calls for the purchase of Elgin’s collection (which was significantly larger than William Townley’s), the government chose not to act. This relative lack of interest in the marbles was augmented by a lack of understanding about the artistic merits of the statuary and about Greek civilization in its own right, which had often been perceived only as a primitive forbearer of Rome. While many of Britain’s artists, who were already familiar with the Elgin Marbles, had been exulting their virtue, the members of Parliament, who had not yet consulted with these artists, were still viewing Greece through the lens of Rome.

The government, however, was not the only realm in which Lord Elgin’s proposals received a chilly reception. The press took up the debate from the moment the first whispers of the collection’s arrival on British soil began to fill the pages of Britain’s periodicals and newspapers in 1802. From then on, the pages would prove a battleground, providing a source of antagonism and later support for Lord Elgin’s actions and the subsequent purchase of his collection. Originally the attacks came from Britons who had just returned from a “grand tour” in Greece. The popularity of Greece as a destination for the aristocratic institution of the “grand tour” grew exponentially during this period as Napoleon had closed much of the rest of the continent to citizens of Great Britain. The result was that over the fourteen years the continent was closed, the aristocrats and wealthy citizens of Britainm parliament’s of Elgin’s marbles made their way to Greece (which had previously been thought a cultural backwater) and became acquainted with the country in its own right. The gradual development of the appreciation for the genius of Classical Greece made many travelers lament the seemingly destructive removal of sculptured materials from the Parthenon, which was often the most admired destination. Thus, their travel journals, which filled the pages of publications like The Quarterly and The Monthly Magazine, often contained harsh rebukes of Elgin’s activities. One commentary published in The Monthly Magazine, which was likely written by Lord Aberdeen, described the “last gleaning of what had been spared by the successive spoilers of the ornaments of Greece” and further noted that “many things which had been hitherto considered immovable have been torn away from the places where they had remained unmolested for thousands of years.”12

Edward Dodwell, an affluent citizen-archaeologist, also expressed outrage in his travel memoirs when he noted that he “had the inexpressible mortification of being present when the Parthenon was despoiled of its finest sculpture […]”13 He went on to describe the manner in which the workmen carried out the “despoliation,” taking note of workers’ throwing “to the ground [a] magnificent cornice,” and commenting that the Parthenon was, at the time of his visit, no longer a “picturesque beauty [in a state of] high preservation […but had been] comparatively reduced to a state of shattered desolation.”14 E.D. Clarke similarly commented on the process of removal in his travel memoirs and bemoaned the destruction of a portion of the Parthenon when a metope was lowered from its position and “[brought down with it] fine masses of Pentelican marble, scattering their white fragments with [a] thundering noise among the ruins.” 15 Clarke concluded his commentary on the subject by somberly commenting that “all the ambassadors of the earth, with all the sovereigns they represent, aided by every resource that wealth and talent can now bestow, will never again repair [the gap created by the fall].” 16 The witnesses to the dilapidation of the Parthenon were clearly upset and it seems likely that their published accounts in the forms of magazine articles and bound compilations caused a similar reaction amongst their readers, who through these travel journals had also been given their first glimpse of Greece.

The literary establishment in Britain also vocally, vociferously, and often venomously attacked Lord Elgin and his activities. Of all Lord Elgin’s opponents, Lord Byron was, no doubt, the most prolific and malicious. At first Byron was merely opposed to what he deemed a useless pursuit in his “English Bards and Scotch Reviewers: A Satire”:,

Let Lord Aberdeen and Elgin still pursue

The shade of fame through regions of virtù;

Waste useless thousands on their Phidian freaks,

Misshapen monuments and maim’d antiques;

And make their grand saloons a general mart

For all the mutilated blocks of art […]17

Lord Byron’s attitude toward the issue was disdain for the “maim’d antiques” themselves and general scorn for the institution of antiquarianism rather than Elgin’s specific act of removal. He considered the acquisition of antiquities to be an impractical and ridiculous pursuit. However, as Byron eventually became infatuated with Greece he became virulently opposed to the removal of the Parthenon Sculptures, his offhand commentaries growing into full-fledged satirical salvos against Lord Elgin. In 1812, a few years after the publication of “English Bards and Scotch Reviewers,” Lord Byron published “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage,” a lyrical-epic poem that, as the title suggests, chronicled the travels of Childe Harold across Europe. The poem contained three cantos specifically aimed at Lord Elgin, referencing the “plunderers of [the Parthenon’s] fame.”18 Lastly and most devastatingly came “The Curse of Minerva.” Published originally as part of “The Corsair” in 1814, “The Curse of Minerva” by 1815 was appearing alone in print. The poem revolves around the actions of Minerva (Athena) as she takes vengeance upon those who ravaged her temple upon the Acropolis. Both shocking and scandalous, “The Curse of Minerva” made several harsh, personal insults toward Lord Elgin, commenting on his divorce, his inability to have healthy children due to syphilis, as well as the conspicuous absence of his nose, also due to his syphilitic affliction.

Although Byron had begun his career mocking antiquaries for what seemed to him a waste of money on “maim’d antiques,” his tone changed rather suddenly between the publication of “English Bards and Scotch Reviewers” in 1809 and “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage” in 1812. Whereas in “English Bards” Byron had engaged in satirical commentary, in “Childe Harold” he produced the cold attacks discussed above. The change in attitude and the development of obvious animosity toward Lord Elgin was likely related to his first adventures to Greece, which had occurred in the interim. Like so many of his aristocratic peers he too ventured out onto a “grand tour” of the Continent, which was limited by the indefinite closure of Western Europe to British travelers, meaning that he was indirectly forced to Greece. His torrid love affair with Greece is well-known, and discussion thereof is not necessary here. But it was, without a doubt, this newfound love of Greece, a love that would compel him to give his life fighting for its freedom in the following decade, that brought about his disdain for Lord Elgin. The British travelers who personally encountered Greece often left it bewitched by its ancient grandeurs. Thus, the removal of the very items they had encountered on their journeys, which contributed to their love of this newly rediscovered Greece, angered these travelers greatly.

Lord Byron, however, was not the only poet attacking Lord Elgin. Horace Smith and John Galt, two lesser-known Romantic poets working at this time, fired their respective salvos. Galt, a novelist and close friend of Byron, also traveled to Greece during his youth. Like Byron, Galt too fell in love with it. His “Atheniad” contained many of the same themes referenced by Byron in “The Curse of Minerva” to describe Lord Elgin. The accounts are so similar that it has been suggested that John Galt’s “Atheniad” was the inspiration to Byron’s “The Curse of Minerva.” 19 Horace Smith, in “On the Dilapidation of the Temple of Minerva at Athens,” also took a swipe at Lord Elgin, expressing what seem to be the general sentiments of the poets of the period best:

Poets unborn shall sing thy impious fame,

And time from history’s eternal page

Expunging Alaric’s and Omar’s name,

Shall give to thine alone pre-eminence of shame.20

John Hamilton Reynolds, in his work, “The Press. A Satire,” made even more negative references to Elgin’s actions. Following a section that disparages the history of England’s kings “pilfering lintels from one [Scotish] ruin more,”21 he included a snide endnote to this line in which he sarcastically stated,

The robbery may possibly have the same excuse as Lord Elgin’s Grecian depredations, viz. that of its being the means of rescuing a portion of the remains of antiquity from utter destruction—as it is unnecessary to observe that the ruins of Scotland and England, as well as those of Turkey, have always been considered fair game; and whilst a Turkish builder makes lime of the marble taken from the one, the British peasantry scruple not to erect their fences by means of stones purloined from the other. 22

While words upon a printed page might seem fleeting, another antagonist of acquisition (although it is sometimes attributed to Lord Byron) carved his short adversarial epigram into stone on the western wall of the Pandroseion, ensuring it would last as long as the buildings upon the Acropolis stood:

Quod non fecerunt Goti

Hoc fecerunt Scoti. 23

While all these poets and writers were clearly agitated over Lord Elgin’s actions, there was also a clear affinity within the poetry for Greece itself and an admiration for the achievements of its ancient inhabitants.

While the government was ignorant of the value of the marbles, and the travelers and poets were in love with them but disapproved of Elgin’s means of procuring them, there was one segment of society that generally reviled them. The dilettanti, those preeminent collectors of antiquities in England, berated Lord Elgin not primarily for his methods, but rather for his seeming waste of money on what they deemed to be second-rate sculpture. At a dinner held shortly after Lord Elgin’s return to Britain, Richard Payne Knight proclaimed that Lord Elgin had “lost [his] labour,” and that his “marbles [were] overrated.”24 This disdainful pronouncement spurred on discussion concerning the merits of the marbles, and, as Knight was a leading member of the Dilettanti Society, that discussion was inevitably skewed against Elgin.

The Public Purchase of the Marbles

While the aforementioned commentaries were decisively negative in their critique of Lord Elgin’s activities and, in some cases, his collection itself, there were strains of support for Elgin. The artists themselves, almost unanimously praised the sculpture as far superior to any of the examples of artistic perfection that had hitherto been held up for reverence.25 Moreover, following the recommendation to the British Parliament that the purchase of the marbles would be a great benefit to the British people, a deluge of praise poured forth from the very publications that had printed the tales of travel penned by Dodwell, Clarke, and Aberdeen, the punitive poetry of Byron and the cruel commentaries of Richard Payne Knight and the dilettanti. On 19 April 1816, after the Parliamentary Select Subcommittee that had been appointed to make recommendations concerning the purchase of Lord Elgin’s collection announced that they were in favor of the purchase, a writer for The Times delightfully announced his “pleasure” with their decision, noting that “millions in future years would not buy such a treasure of art.” 26 The overjoyed journalist then went on to pronounce the inestimable value of the works of Phidias, making note of all the pleasing naturalistic elements of the major pieces. When Lord Elgin’s collection finally went on display in the British Museum, moreover, floods of people poured into the makeshift gallery to behold these newly consecrated symbols of their nation. Benjamin Haydon indicated in his diary his elation with this sudden influx of visitors, many of whom previously had little exposure to the art world:

On Monday last there were one thousand and two people visited [sic] the Elgin Marbles! a greater number than ever visited the British Museum since it was established. It is quite interesting to listen to the remarks of the people. They make them with the utmost simplicity, with no affection of taste, but with a homely truth that shews [sic] that they are sound at the core. We overheard two common looking decent men say to each other, “How broken they are, a’ant they?” “Yes,” said the other, “but how like life.” 27

Despite this post-purchase admiration, if those who chose to comment on Lord Elgin’s activities and the collection that resulted from them in the decade prior to their purchase had all expressed a generally negative attitude toward Elgin’s marbles (with the notable exception of artists), the question then arises as to why they were purchased. Why would a government whose representatives had spent the past several years reading innumerable insults about Lord Elgin’s decision to remove the marbles and mixed commentaries on their quality choose to overwhelmingly support the purchase of the artifacts by a vote of 82 in favor and 30 against?28 What change in the public sphere had altered the tastes of a nation toward both the sculptures themselves and the morality of their removal?

During the proceedings that were initiated to look into the purchase of Lord Elgin’s collection, a select parliamentary subcommittee was appointed to compose a report investigating four crucial topics29 and make a recommendation to the British Parliament on the issue of purchasing the collection. The committee conducted hearings, which included testimony from Lord Elgin himself as well as from a host of the most preeminent artists of the time, in order to produce the report. The bulk of the completed report focused on establishing Lord Elgin’s claim to the marbles as his property by defining the grounds under which he acquired them, and the rest of the document discussed the artistic merit of the marbles themselves. The report’s conclusion made a brief comment on the rationale for purchasing Elgin’s collection:

If it be true, as we learn from history and experience, that free governments afford a soil most suitable to the production of native talent, to the maturing of the powers of the human mind, and to the growth of every species of excellence, by opening to merit the prospect of reward and distinction, no country can be better adapted than our own to afford an honourable asylum, to these monuments of the school of Phidias, and of the administration of Pericles.30

The Times echoed these sentiments when its editors expressed their pleasure at the purchase, noting,

[The] relics of the most splendid era of Greek genius will soon, we trust, be secured by the only nation that has ever rivalled [sic] Greece in eloquence and poetry—the only nation whose policy has corresponded with the picture drawn by PERICLES […]31

This conclusion to a brief and positive report concerning the issue of purchasing the marbles and the news article reporting upon the same material sum up the reasons for purchasing the marbles more than any artistic treatise or antiquary journal ever could. The British saw themselves as the inheritors of Periclean tradition, as the inheritors of the ideals of freedom, creativity, and democracy and hence as the inheritors of the great works of the Greeks themselves. The British at this time in many ways identified themselves as Greeks, more “Greek” than even the present inhibitors of that ancient land. 32 There were essentially two reasons for this attachment to a Greek identity. The first was a desire on the part of many Britons to link themselves to something of seeming permanence in the years following the volatile revolutionary period. This desire manifested itself in the binding of the modern to the antique in poetry and literature, in the desire to emulate the artistic methods and styles of the Greeks, in the incorporation of Greek myth into British literature, and in an increased discussion and study of Greece and the Greek language. The second reason was the adoption of a specifically Greek form of neo-classicism as opposed to the traditional Greco-Roman, a process which served as a means of differentiating themselves from the French who had throughout the course of the Revolution assumed for themselves a Roman identity.

Roman France and Grecian Britain

During the revolutionary years France had reached toward antiquity, frequently donning the robes of particularly Roman traditions and imagery. This process of emulation reached a peak during the years of the Napoleonic Empire as a government-driven propagandistic device that sought to obtain legitimacy during those turbulent years. This Roman façade was widely adopted in the arts as well as in political structures and ceremonies and has been a source for a sea of scholarship; thus, a very brief summary, including just a few of the tremendous number of examples, will suffice for this paper.

In architecture, this Romanizing tendency was expressed by the numerous projects undertaken during this period, including the addition of a Roman portico to the Palais Bourbon in Paris, which was adopted as a meeting place by the Council of 500 (the governing body of the Directorate which itself had a striking resemblance to the Roman system of governance) and the Arc De Triomphe, constructed in the style of Roman conquerors. In French painting, this tradition could be seen in the styles of David and Ingres. David, although he painted some of his best-known neo-classical works in the last years of the Ancien Régime, expressed many of the fomenting revolutionary tendencies, often choosing to depict them in the form of Roman myth, as he did in The Oath of the Horatii. Napoleon’s theft of the great collections of Greco-Roman art, like the Lacoon, the Venus De Medici, and others (which had been held up by the parliamentary select subcommittee as examples excellence) further contributed to the assertion that Paris was attempting to portray itself as a new Rome. Napoleon himself also did much to further the Roman imperial image, going so far as to don a laurel crown, a classic symbol of Roman Imperialism, at his own coronation and stylizing himself an “emperor” after a career which already had, in many ways, echoed Caesar’s.

France was clearly at the opposite end of the spectrum from the democratic administration of Periclean Athens, which Britain sought to emulate. During the previous quarter-century, the British had waged a seemingly endless war against Revolutionary France. A generation of Britons had grown up in England knowing only war and tumult; Sir Walter Scott eloquently expressed this sentiment in his 1815 poem, “Field of Waterloo:”

For ne’er, before, vicissitude so strange

Was to one race of Adam’s offspring given.

And sure such varied change of sea and heaven,

Such unexpected bursts of joy and woe,

Such fearful strife as that where we have striven,

Succeeding ages ne’er again shall know […] 33

So, when Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo in 1815, the whole of Britain, a good portion of which had played at least some part in the war, struggled to try to define what had happened and attempted to anchor a world that seemed woefully off course. This manifested itself in a general retreat from the ideals of the late eighteenth century, exemplified both politically in the resurgence of conservatism following the Congress of Vienna and socially in the exultation of Romantic strains of taste and thought, ideals that had been intertwined with the Rational-Classicism of the Enlightenment.

In previous decades, the necessity of reaching backward in order to express contemporary events would have meant the assumption of the classical identity that the Revolution had utilized, a notion anathema to a post-Revolutionary Briton. France had, by its very assumption of the Roman identity, forced England to assume the classical identity of Greece in much the same way it had forced Britain’s aristocracy to travel there.34 In his work, Currents and Eddies in English Romanticism, Frederick Pierce begins by noting that “the eighteenth century and the first decade of the nineteenth had shown little genuine knowledge of Greek art and literature, little tendency to imitate […] their technique or spirit,” 35 and that it was commonly thought the incorporation of Greek style and mythology into writing was dangerous. 36 But with the rediscovery of Greece there was a classical world that Britons could latch onto, an identity they could assume without coming into contact with the Roman identity and its imperial trappings that been adopted by revolutionary and imperial France. The identity was soon secured within the British psyche through the introduction of the finest examples of marble statuary from the classical Greek world, the Elgin Marbles. There was also a demonstrably patriotic aspect to the embrace of Greek statuary in general and Lord Elgin’s collection in particular. The assumption of Greek identity meant that Britain must inevitably mirror the civic mindedness that followed Periclean Athens’s triumph at Marathon and the subsequent defeat of the Persians, as well as the civic consciousness that led to the construction of the Parthenon. In The Times of London it was noted concerning the Elgin Marbles that “while [it] contemplates these masterpieces of art, […Britain…] must […] glow with the patriotism to which they owed their production.” 37 Wordsworth, moreover notes in his poem “Thanksgiving” that while the ecstasy that accompanied the victory at Waterloo had faded,

Victorious England! bid the silent Art

Reflect, in glowing hues that shall not fade,

Those high achievements; even as she arrayed

With second life the deed of Marathon

Upon Athenian walls;

So may she labour for thy civic halls:

And be the guardian spaces

Of consecrated places,

As nobly graced by Sculpture’s patient toil;

And let imperishable Columns rise

Fixed in the depths of this courageous soil;

Expressive signals of a glorious strife,

And competent to shed a spark divine

Into the torpid breast of daily life;–

Records on which, for pleasure of all eyes,

The morning sun may shine

With gratulation thoroughly benign!38

Wordsworth, like the author of the article in The Times was calling upon Britain to mirror their assumed Greek identity even more fully, to “fix in the depths” of British soil monuments to this profound achievement.

As the British began to embrace particularity and grasp for a secure mooring, the vast majority of British writers, artists, and thinkers in the first few years following the Revolution anchored their intellectual endeavors in the classical world. This was primarily the result of the educational training that many of the more learned segments of British society had received. Education during the eighteenth century focused, as it had since the Middle Ages, on the instruction of grammar, which during this period referred explicitly to the study of Latin and Greek. Instruction in this subject involved the reading of each of the two languages in their pure, classical context that inevitably exposed students to Herodotus, Thucydides, Peterculus, Caesar, Livy, and a plethora of other Greek and Roman historians. As education stood, however, history as a general popular study in the modern context had yet to be developed. Therefore, many students were likely to be undereducated in historical events that fell outside the periods addressed by classical authors, as those issues were often conspicuously absent from the curricula of British grammar schools. As Richard S. Thompson points out in his article on English Grammar Schools in the eighteenth century, out of the 177 schools in the area of London included in his study, 155 taught only grammar.39 The result of this style of education can be seen in the prose, poetry, and speeches of the day, which all make heavy reference to classical events. Edmund Burke, for example, relied heavily on Cicero’s prosecution of Verres as a model for his own prosecution of Warren Hastings, the first Governor-General of India, and included many colorful references to Cicero’s work. Lord Byron also utilized the same classical references in his swipes at Lord Elgin.40

Further evidence of a newfound emphasis on all things Greek can be elicited from an analysis of the news media. A survey of The Times of London and The Edinburgh Advertiser reveals a sudden surge in the use of the adjectives “Grecian” and “Greek” in 1816. In 1815, for instance, the use of “Grecian” in The Times and The Edinburgh Advertiser came to a rather trivial 29 with an average of 29 occurrences per year from 1798 to 1815. In 1816 that number jumps to 166. Similarly the use of “Greek” in The Times jumps from 23 occurrences in 1815 (wtih an average of 37 occurrences per year from 1798 to 1815) to 146 in 1816.41 A brief survey of the articles revealed that few were related to issues regarding Lord Elgin’s collection or to subjects concerning Greece itself. This eliminates any chance that the drastic increase is purely based on a rise in the frequency of public discussion concerning the parliamentary hearings. Instead, the majority of the uses were in advertisements for furniture, copies of the Greek classics, tutors in Greek history, and grammar guides, which indicates an increase in the demand, or at least availability of such items. Either way, this demonstrates the point that all things Greek had become more ubiquitous. 42 This surge in use of these two adjectives is also indicative that the descriptors had become increasingly pervasive in popular communication and hence popular culture and thought.

The study of philology was yet another area in which the British people attempted to identify themselves as Greek. In 1815, an article appeared in The Quarterly Review that analyzed a work recently written by the philologist John Jamieson. In his work, Hermes Scythicus: Or the Radical Affinities of the Greek and Latin Languages to the Gothic […], Jamieson asserted a common origin for the Greek and Gothic languages. This British writer was tying together modern English with ancient Greek by way of gothic, from which modern English had its roots. While it is not necessarily an opportunistic argument to make, it seems timely that at the very point in which there is a definite surge in the discussion of Britain’s role as the inheritors of the Greek tradition, a scholarly paper comes out which finds a common link between the English and Greek languages. 43

Poetry was yet another area where this mid- to post-revolutionary Greek revival in Britain could be found. Frederick Pierce identifies the greatest impact of this “eddy” in the romantic tradition as being on the group of writers surrounding the poet Leigh Hunt. In his work, Pierce notes that incorporation of Greek motifs, themes, and mythology had been rare in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. 44 Yet in the latter years of the French Revolution and following the arrival of the Elgin Marbles, many writers began to incorporate Greek mythology and style into their verse and prose. Byron ,is perhaps the most well known for his hellenic poetry, the most prominent examples of which have already been mentioned in this paper. The group of poets and writers (as well as painters and sculptors) who associated themselves with Leigh Hunt began to do this as well. Of those wordsmiths, Keats and Shelley were the most prolific, and both of them would be described by one of their contemporaries several years after their deaths as “Greek poets.” 45

Nationalist Commemoration in the Wake of Waterloo

As the events of the French Revolution reached their startling climax with the return of Napoleon from seemingly absolute defeat, a renewed coalition went to face the little general again. In a hard-fought and close battle, the allied coalition of Britain and Prussia defeated revolutionary France yet again upon the fields of Waterloo in what would prove to be a defining moment in British history.

The final victory over the French at Waterloo had a significant impact on the way Britons viewed themselves and elevated national pride. This triumph, which had no parallel in the contemporary world, required a dip back in time to find a counterpart to aid in socio-historic interpretation. Sir Walter Scott highlighted the unprecedented nature of “Immortal Waterloo” writing:

“Yes—Agincourt may be forgot,

And Cressy be an unknown spot,

And Blenheim’s name be new;

But still in story and in song,

For many an age remember’d long,

Shall live the towers of Hougomont,

And Field of Waterloo.”46

In Scott’s mind, the English victory over the French at Waterloo surpassed in significance and scale all the great battles of English history, with parallels found only in the annals of ancient military victories. Although Scott is most noted for his novels that draw heavily on English history (like the Waverly series), he had not yet at the time of the conclusion of the wars of the French Revolution published such works. Interestingly enough, his first work to be published following the victory over the French was The Antiquary, a tale that, as the name implies, chronicled the adventures of a wealthy antiquarian. While noted for its Gothic undertones, the subject matter itself cannot be overlooked. Furthermore, the British historical novels for which Scott would become famous did not begin to appear until Ivanhoe was published in 1819. This delay, during which Scott wrote in a style filled with neo-gothic imagery yet about antiquarian pursuits, seemed to echo the general inability to express the newly emerging historic ideologies of Romanticism and historic events like Waterloo without utilizing a classical vocabulary.

William Thomas Fitzgerald echoed the sentiments (and lines) of Scott in his own “The Battle of Waterloo” writing,

Not CRESSY, AGINCOURT, or BLENHEIM’S day,Could bear a nobler wreath of fame away. 47

Lord Byron also emphasized the timelessness of the Battle, writing in “Childe Harold” about the somber Field of Waterloo:

Millions of tongues record thee, and anew

Their children’s lips will echo them, and say —

‘Here, where the sword united nations drew, […]

And this is much, and all which will not pass away. 48

Even outside poetic circles, the idea that this victory was both unprecedented in scale and scope, as well as eternal, was commonly found. In the July 1815 edition of The Quarterly Review an article detailing the events of the wars against France appeared. In a short biography of the Duke of Wellington, with somber reverence the importance of Waterloo was noted: “the glory of all former fields seemed at the time to fade before Waterloo. At Cressy, at Poietiers [sic], at Agincourt, the ease with which victory had been obtained appeared to detract from the merit of the conquerors […].” 49

Robert Charles Dallas’s description of the Battle of Waterloo is a telling example of the introduction of Greek imagery and mythology into the verse of this period, as well as the general notion that the battle had no parallels outside antiquity. In describing the events leading up to the battle, Dallas makes numerous references to Phoebus, the Muses, Gorgons and a host of other members of the Greek Pantheon and beasts from Greek myth. The poem itself is written in an epic style reminiscent of Homer or Virgil. As the battle commences, Dallas imagines the British and French soldiers charging into each other, each drawing their “falchion[s] from [their] sheath[s],” and moving in a “serried phalanx,” a phrase with clear connotations to warfare in Classical Greece.

The allusion to the immortality of the conflict and the necessity of classical parallels is best highlighted in Fitzgerald’s poem “The Battle of Waterloo” where he humbly notes that it should be either “HOMER’S lyre, or CAESAR’s pen,” that records the events of Waterloo.50 For this generation, the trials of the French Revolution stood foremost in their minds for the shock they provided the world, and stood together with the Roman Civil War and the Trojan War in terms of perceived scale. It was this mythologizing of the events of the end of the French revolution that had a profound impact on the decision to purchase the Elgin Marbles.

No doubt, as the aforementioned poets read the epics of Homer and Virgil, they looked backward to a classical world long since disintegrated into memory and, in so doing, began to cast Britain and France in the same light. Composing verse or prose on the subject of an epic victory caused writers to think of Britain and France as they had thought of Rome and Carthage or Greece and Troy. Benjamin Robert Haydon, a prolific painter and a tremendous supporter of Lord Elgin and his collection, took a trip to Dover in 1808 during which he echoed such sentiments in his diary. While Haydon was there, he took a boat half-way to the French coast, near to the location where Napoleon had once planned his invasion, and thought “[…] there is the country that overran Europe, […] not 100 miles from that coast is Buonaparte [sic], the wonder and detestation of the World […]. I never saw any coast so exactly answering the feeling excited by Homer’s description & scenery here was the place to read Homer […].”51 While this passage is yet another example of the prevalence of classical history and literature in the products of the eighteenth century British education system, Haydon went on to verbally paint a landscape of a deserted Britain thousands of years in the future, “a Colossal Statue of Britannia, with her Lion at her feet, surveying France with a lofty air” perched atop the white cliffs of Dover. Haydon continued on to highlight the sublime grandeur of this imagined future with its own Britannic Colossus by noting, “what a feeling two thousand years hence, when England & France shall have long sunk into silence, […] proudly defying each other, regardless of centuries, ages and events […].”52 In these commentaries, Haydon was looking backward toward contemporary events, viewing them as contemporaries viewed the events of antiquity.

Architecture also serves as important evidence of Britain’s identification with Greece; memorials in the post-war period are particularly telling. On 19 June 1819, the Edinburgh Advertiser reported that the Scottish government selected a final design for the National Monument that had been commissioned in previous years.53 The structure, it was determined, would be a replica of the Parthenon in Athens. Just as importantly, however, was the repudiation of the earlier favored design that was based on the Pantheon in Rome. The change in public taste that accompanied a shift from the Roman Pantheon to the Greek Parthenon as the ideal design for the Scottish National Monument paralleled the change in taste for sculpture and painting from the beau-ideal of Rational-Classicism to Romantic-Naturalism after the arrival of the Elgin Marbles in Britain54 Moreover, it fit with the general rejection of Rome due to the French assumption of Roman identity during the period. The story of the Scottish National Monument after the selection of the design is even more telling. While the Parthenon was chosen as the model for the monument, construction was never completed and Edinburgh has still resting atop Calton Hill a mere 12 columns, mimicking the Parthenon’s ruined state and fitting in with the Romantic ideals that exulted it in ways certainly never intended by Mr. Elliott, the architect of the project.55

The obsession with ruin, decay, and age had been brewing for several decades by the time of the debate over the Elgin Marbles. Numerous painters, sculptors, poets, writers, and thinkers had been fascinated by the “wasting away of old time.” In Britain the painter Joseph Michael Gandy often depicted planned or recently constructed buildings in a state of decay. In his landscape A Vision of Sir John Soane’s Design for the Rotunda of the Bank of England as a Ruin, painted in 1798, Gandy portrayed a building not yet constructed, one that he had merely seen on architectural drawings as a fragmented and decayed structure. Vines and other vegetation can be seen creeping their way up and through the collapsed rotunda as nature recaptures the stone that had been quarried for the bank’s construction. In 1830 Gandy would paint the entirety of the completed Bank of England complex as ruins. This attempt to depict contemporary things as ancient ruins accords with Haydon’s attempt to do the same in his contemplations about England and France.

In Britain, ruins had become a source of infatuation by the beginning of the nineteenth century. Indeed, it was in the final years of the eighteenth century that Wordsworth wrote his “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey […]” while on a tour to see the ruined Cistercian monastery. The collapsed arches, broken windowpanes and fallen columns provided a look into sublime beauty and lured tourists from all over Britain to stroll through its derelict grandeur. The desire to tour ruins, to visit dilapidated structures, and to commune with the crude mingling of nature and man was part of the more general desire to commune with permanence. To be in the presence of a structure so old was inspiring to many who sought intellectual grounding, as Felicia Hemans, a romantic poet in the vain of Byron, wrote,

Grace, beauty, grandeur, strength, and symmetry,

Blend in decay […].56

So when Lord Elgin’s ancient fragmented statuary made their appearance in Britain they were an instant success among many as they satiated both the desire to commune with antiques and to identify with the ancients.

Up until the first quarter of the nineteenth century, fragmented sculptured antiquities were almost always restored (accurately or not) into completed works. The preference toward restoration fit perfectly with the ideology of the period, which emphasized the use of antiques primarily for their decorative aspects. Ancient statuary was meant to grace the stately Palladian homes of the English countryside, and thus the emphasis on the perfection of form precluded “maim’d antiques” from being deemed graceful enough to fulfill that role. But in the early years of the nineteenth century, that emphasis on the necessity of the restoration of antiquities began to wane as both the assaults on the beau-ideal continued to mount and Britain’s newfound belief in the intrinsic value of the truth historical objects presented began to wax.

Lord Elgin was not excepted from the desire to restore the sculptures he had so painstakingly acquired. In 1803 Lord Elgin went to meet with Antonio Canova, a sculptor considered by many to be the foremost expert on sculptural restoration at the time, to seek assistance in restoring the Parthenon Marbles. The response of Canova was recorded by Lord Elgin in his Memorandum in which he stated, “[Canova believed the marbles] had never been retouched; that they were the work of the ablest artists the world had ever seen [and] ‘it would be sacrilege in him or any man to presume to touch them with a chisel.’” 57 Other artists shared Canova’s objection to restoration. Both John Flaxman, who Canova suggested Elgin go to if he really wanted his collection restored, and Benjamin Robert Haydon, thought any attempt to restore the sculptures would diminish their beauty.58 John Keats, moreover, when writing about the Elgin Marbles, expressed both his admiration for the antiques and his fascination with their fragmented state, commenting on the “dizzying pain / That mingles Grecian grandeur with the rude / Wasting of old time […]” 59

The refusal to restore the marbles by men who had performed so many restorations throughout their careers, as well as opposition from other artists, reveals a distinct change in character from earlier periods. There was a newfound and very distinct appreciation for these sculptures as they were, for the originality of the experience they offered. These marbles could provide people with a direct link to the hands of the ancient Greek craftsman who sculpted them over two millennia prior and thus with Britain’s adopted ancestry. As William Haygarth noted about the Elgin Marbles,

In them a spirit still survives, in them

The soul of Athens seems to live again.60

This desire to be in contact with the real, to commune with historic objects, while not entirely new, was to become increasingly common throughout the course of the early nineteenth century.

Conclusion

The various strains of discussion concerning the Elgin Marbles do, indeed, reveal as much about the time in which they took place as they do about the collection itself. The marbles came to England during a period of transition. Over the fifteen years their status was debated, the scales of style, taste, and ideology tippled slowly toward Romanticism. The purchase of Lord Elgin’s collection seems to indicate that the marbles had become objects of identity through which Britain could latch onto something seemingly immortal. The post-revolution obsession with antiquarianism was altogether an attempt to commune with the distant past, a way for a generation that had seen “such varied change of sea and heaven”61 to lash itself to permanence. This emphasis on antiquity as both a symbol of stability and of change, however, did not last long. Within the following decade a new emphasis on European cultural history began to emerge and replaced the sparkling marble of antiquity with the limestone of the Middle Ages as the rock to which European conservatism anchored itself. While Sir Walter Scott began the post-revolutionary period with a book about an antiquarian, he progressed, as mentioned earlier, to writing historical fiction with an emphasis on the medieval, baronial, and gothic, a fact demonstrated both by his published works and by the baronial style in which he chose to build his house at Abbotsford in 1824. Similarly Britain, which began the same period with calls for recreations of the Parthenon as memorials in London and Edinburgh and for the purchase of “maim’d antiques,” progressed toward its own gothic revival as evidenced by the style in which the people of Britain chose to rebuild their own house at Westminster.

In the years following the peak of English identification with Greece, a period that lasted from 1815 to roughly 1825, the prevalence of Greece within British society began to wane quickly. It was usurped by a rediscovery of British cultural history that in turn led to another revolution in the arts. This decline in popular identification, however, did not mean an absolute end to the influence of Classical Greece; on the contrary, Greece continued to play an integral role in British intellectual thought throughout the nineteenth century, a topic explored quite thoroughly by Frank M. Turner in his book, The Greek Heritage in Victorian Britain. The education system, which would continue to place a great emphasis on the study of Greek, ensured that parallels would continue to be drawn between contemporary and ancient events, but no longer exclusively.62 Greek Revival architecture would continue to be built in Britain, and poets would continue to incorporate Greek mythology into their prose. But the breadth, extent, and depth of identification would never surpass that of the decade following 1815. That decade introduced Greece into British consciousness as separate from Rome, as a distinct entity from which poets and authors could draw from exclusively.

The Romantic Greek revival in Britain, while driven by conservatism, was at least partially responsible for the liberalism that would characterize Britain in the mid-nineteenth century. Prior to the outbreak of war with France in 1793, constitutional reform had been proposed with mixed reactions in Britain. Unified opposition to the activities of revolutionary France, moreover, ensured that liberal reform would remain in a proverbial drawer for several decades more. But the adoption of a Periclean Greek identity, by the whole of Britain, replete with its democratic undertones, ensured that the political reality soon matched the surrogate personality.

In a way peculiarly British, the naturalism of the Elgin marbles represented for some a conservative foundation, a marble rock to anchor the present while at the same time propelling society forward. The naturalistic, propulsive sculptures were something new at the same time as they were something old. They were a mingling of the security of the ages with the promise of something fresh and different, like Britain’s government itself: a monarchy whose connection to ages past provided a sense of security to a nation moving forward.

Appendix I: Frequency Table of “Graecian” and “Greek” in The Times of London and The Edinburgh Advertiser

Year

Graecian

Greek

1798

9

36

1799

9

19

1800

6

22

1801

36

92

1802

21

74

1803

10

41

1804

11

38

1805

30

38

1806

16

12

1807

24

26

1808

16

15

1809

39

27

1810

14

7

1811

19

26

1812

65

38

1813

54

43

1814

53

53

1815

29

23

1816

166

146

1817

116

130

1818

111

139

1819

74

97

1820

64

80

Endnotes

1 Edmund Burke and James Dodsley, Reflections on the Revolution in France, and on the Proceedings in Certain Societies in London Relative to That Event. In a Letter Intended to Have Been Sent to a Gentleman in Paris, 6th ed. (London,: J. Dodsley, 1790).

2 For a more complete summary of Romanticism see Lynn Avery Hunt, The Making of the West : Peoples and Cultures, 2 vols. (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2001), 784-94. Also see Walter Jackson Bate, From Classic to Romantic : Premises of Taste in Eighteenth-Century England (Cambridge: Harvard university press, 1949).

3 For a full account of Lord Elgin’s activities concerning the sculptured material of the Parthenon see: William St. Clair, Lord Elgin and the Marbles (Oxford ; New York: Oxford Univesity Press, 1998). Also see: Philip Hunt and A. H. Smith, “Lord Elgin and His Collection,” The Journal of Hellenic Studies 36 (1916). For a primary account by Lord Elgin himself see “Minutes of Evidence” from: “Report from the Select Subcommittee on the Earl of Elgin’s Collection of Sculptured Marbles; &C.,” (House of Commons, 1816).

4 “Report from the Select Subcommittee on the Earl of Elgin’s Collection of Sculptured Marbles; &C..” 69.

5 Albert Vandal and Charles François Ollier Nointel, L’odyssée D’un Ambassadeur. Les Voyages Du Marquis De Nointel (1670-1680), 2. éd. ed. (Paris,: Plon-Nourrit et cie, 1900).

6 Smith, “Lord Elgin and His Collection,” 189. Also St. Clair, Lord Elgin and the Marbles. Also Edward Dodwell, A Classical and Topographical Tour through Greece, During the Years 1801, 1805, and 1806, 2 vols., vol. 1 (London: Printed for Rodwell and Martin, New Bond-Street, 1819), 324-25.

7 Jacob Rothenberg, “Decensus Ad Terram” The Acquisition and Reception of the Elgin Marbles (1967), 190.

8 “Report from the Select Subcommittee on the Earl of Elgin’s Collection of Sculptured Marbles; &C..” 67.

9 See Minutes of Evidence in Ibid., 17.

10 St. Clair, Lord Elgin and the Marbles, 179.

11 “Report from the Select Subcommittee on the Earl of Elgin’s Collection of Sculptured Marbles; &C.,” 9.

12 Qtd. in Rothenberg, “Decensus Ad Terram” The Acquisition and Reception of the Elgin Marbles, 197-98.

13 Dodwell, A Classical and Topographical Tour through Greece, During the Years 1801, 1805, and 1806, 322.

14 Ibid.

15 E.D. Clarke, Travels in Various Countries of Europe, Asia, and Africa, 4 ed., 11 vols., vol. 6 (London: Printed for T. Cadell and W. Davies in the Strand By R. Watts Crown Court Temple Bar., 1817), 223-26.

16 Ibid.

17 George Gordon Byron Byron and Paul Elmer More, The Complete Poetical Works of Lord Byron, Cambridge ed. (Boston ; New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1933), 256. For a nice compilation of Byron’s Philhellenic and Parthenon related works see: Eugenia Kefallineou, Byron and the Antiquities of the Acropolis of Athens (Athens: The Archaeological Society At Athens Library, 1999).

18 Byron and More, The Complete Poetical Works of Lord Byron, 21. See Cantos the Second, Stanzas XI – XIII.

19 Stephen Addison Larrabee, English Bards and Grecian Marbles ; the Relationship between Sculpture and Poetry Especially in the Romantic Period (New York: Columbia University Press, 1943).

20 Horace Smith, 1779-1849 / Smith, James, 1775-1839, Horace in London (Printed for John Miller … and John Ballantyne and Co. [etc.], 1813), 62.

21 John Hamilton Reynolds, The Press. A Satire., vol. Peter Bell (London: Printed for Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy [etc.], 1819), 6.

22 Ibid.

23 “What was not done by the Goths—was done by the Scots.” Kefallineou, Byron and the Antiquities of the Acropolis of Athens. Note: Translation is my own.

24 Qtd. in St. Clair, Lord Elgin and the Marbles, 169.

25 “Report from the Select Subcommittee on the Earl of Elgin’s Collection of Sculptured Marbles; &C.,” (House of Commons, 1816), 25-37. Specifically it should be noted that in the testimony given before parliament all but one artist, Richard Payne Knight, rated Elgin’s pieces as some of the “finest” they had seen.

26 “Elgin Marbles,” The Times of London, 19 April 1816.

27 Benjamin Robert Haydon and Willard Bissell Pope, The Diary of Benjamin Robert Haydon (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1960), v2 119ff. (Italics in original). Se entry for 28 May 1817.

28 The Edinburgh Advertiser, 11 June 1816, 6.

29 Those topics being: (1) the authority with which the collection was acquired, (2) the circumstances which might have made acquisition on Elgin’s part easier, (3) the artistic merit of the sculptures, and (4) their monetary value.

30 “Report from the Select Subcommittee on the Earl of Elgin’s Collection of Sculptured Marbles; &C.,” 15. Italics in original.

31 “We Are Happy to Observe…” The Times, 11 May 1816, 4.

32 Many Britons thought the modern inhabitants of Greece were degenerated as a result of the reigns of tyranny, an article in The Times noting, “It is a false calculation of sentiment […] to lament that these sculptures have not been left to animate the modern Athenians. To say nothing of the complete degradation of those people, and the total failure of that experiment for so many centuries while the sculptures were yet perfect.” - Ibid., 8 June.

33 Sir Walter Scott, The Poetical Works of Sir Walter Scott … Complete in One Volume with Introductions and Notes (Robert Cadell, 1841), 506. See Conclusion, Lines 10-18.

34 In addition to essentially forcing Britain into the arms of a Greek identity France also enabled Lord Elgin to acquire the Parthenon marbles as Napoleon’s defeat at the hands of the British ingratiated the new ambassador so much to the Ottoman Turks they were more than willing to grant him the Firman he requested. For a detailed look at the affect of the victory in Egypt had on securing Elgin’s right to remove the sculptures see “Report from the Select Subcommittee on the Earl of Elgin’s Collection of Sculptured Marbles; &C..”

35 Frederick E. Pierce, Currents and Eddies in the English Romantic Tradition (London: Humphrey Milford, 1918), 175.

36 Ibid.

37 The Times, 8 June 1816.

38 William Wordsworth, The Poetical Works (Edward Moxen, 1849-1850), 93. See section IV.

39 Richard S. Tompson, “The English Grammar School Curriculum in the 18th Century: A Reappraisal,” British Journal of Educational Studies 19, no. 1 (1971).

40 Margaret M. Miles, “Cicero’s Prosecution of Gaius Verres: A Roman View of the Ethics of the Acquisition of Art,” International Journal of Cultural Property 11, no. 1 (2002): 36, 40-41.

41 See Appendix I

42 A sampling of a few of these many articles are as follows: “A Valuable Library of Books…” The Times, 19 February 1816. “Private Tutor,” The Times 1816. “Library Of…” The Times, 17 December 1816.

43 “Jamieson and Townsend on Ancient Languages,” The Quarterly Review, October 1815.

44 Pierce, Currents and Eddies in the English Romantic Tradition.

45 Ibid., 178.

46 Scott, The Poetical Works of Sir Walter Scott … Complete in One Volume with Introductions and Notes, 506. See Section XXIII, lines 15-21.

47 William Thomas Fitzgerald, “The Battle of Waterloo,” The New Monthly Magazine, August 1815.

48 Byron and More, The Complete Poetical Works of Lord Byron, 40. See Canto the Third; Stanza XXXV.

49 “The Life of Wellington,” Quarterly Review, July 1815, 522.

50 Fitzgerald, “The Battle of Waterloo.”

51 Haydon and Pope, The Diary of Benjamin Robert Haydon, 3-5.

52 Ibid.

53 “National Monument of Scotland,” The Edinburgh Advertiser, 19 June 1819.

54 See Rothenberg, “Decensus Ad Terram” The Acquisition and Reception of the Elgin Marbles.

55 John Lowrey, “From Caesarea to Athens: Greek Revival Edinburgh and the Question of Scottish Identity within the Unionist State,” The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 60, no. 2 (2001).

56 Felicia Dorothea Browne Hemans, The Works (London: Printed for T. Cadell and W. Davies … By J. M’Creery [etc.], 1839), 181.

57 qtd in. Rothenberg, “Decensus Ad Terram” The Acquisition and Reception of the Elgin Marbles, 185.

58 Haydon and Pope, The Diary of Benjamin Robert Haydon. Rothenberg, “Decensus Ad Terram” The Acquisition and Reception of the Elgin Marbles, 185.

59 John Keats, The Poetical Works (London: Printed for Taylor and Hessey [etc.], 1906). See “On Seeing the Elgin Marbles.”

60 Qtd. in Larrabee, English Bards and Grecian Marbles ; the Relationship between Sculpture and Poetry Especially in the Romantic Period, 273.

61 Scott, The Poetical Works of Sir Walter Scott … Complete in One Volume with Introductions and Notes, 506. See Conclusion, Lines 10-18.

62 Frank M. Turner, The Greek Heritage in Victorian Britain (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1981), 5.

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