Britain Has Lost Its Marbles: Elgin Loan Will Appease Putin

River God Illisos

This is the headline of an article by Geoffrey Robertson in the Daily Beast on December 6 about the loan of part of the Elgin Marbles by the British Museum to the Hermitage in St. Petersburg.

“The British Museum, in total secrecy but in collaboration with The Times of London, has moved the River God Illisos from his plinth in the Duveen Gallery to St. Petersburg for a celebration of the Russian art collection at the Hermitage. This raises two issues: firstly, why give a propaganda windfall to President Putin at a time when his breaches of international law can only be deterred by sanctions that are beginning to bite? Secondly, if a part of the marbles can now been seen for the next two months by visiting St. Petersburg, why should all surviving pieces of the greatest art in world history not be seen, reunited, at the Acropolis Museum under a blue attic sky and in the shadow of the Parthenon?”

The rest of the article deals with these questions.


One response to “Britain Has Lost Its Marbles: Elgin Loan Will Appease Putin

  1. See Boris Johnson in the weekly world edition of the Telegraph Dec 10-16 for one of his usually pithy columns, this one headed “Lending Putin the Marbles is barmy, but perfectly British”. Don’t know whether it can be seen on line but toward the end he asks “Can you imagine any other country where a national museum could take such a politically charged decision without government knowledge and acquiescence? Greece? France? Russia? Don’t make me laugh.” He then argues that, despite George Clooney and others, “That is why it is entirely fitting that the owl of Pallas should still haunt the squares of Bloomsbury. It is the British Museum’s freedom to loan Ilissus to Russia – even in this wretched period – that shows exactly why the Elgin Marbles belong and shall remain in London.”