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The British Museum and the Marbles

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The Parthenon Marbles and International Law

Abstract

This chapter turns to the Parthenon marbles and the British Museum. First, the chapter reviews the marbles’ custodianship by the British Museum. This part of the chapter includes a discussion of the Duveen scouring scandal, which was kept secret for the best part of 60 years and which resulted in irreparable damage to all the metopes, most of the frieze, and about half the pedimental figures, in a misguided attempt to whiten what remained of the originally polychrome decoration and its centuries-old patina. Second, the chapter considers and rejects the traditional positions in favour of the marbles’ continued retention in the British Museum, Merryman’s theory of ‘cultural internationalism’, and it addresses critically the arguments currently relied upon by the museum’s trustees to resist repatriation. Finally, the chapter studies the ban on deaccession that the British Museum has relied upon to explain why legally it cannot return the marbles and questions its relevance to international law.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Jenkins (2001) 3.

  2. 2.

    Smith (1916) 350; House of Commons (2000), annex IV, para 4.1; Jenkins (2001) 3.

  3. 3.

    Jenkins (2001) 3.

  4. 4.

    St Clair (1998) 303; Beard (2010) 162.

  5. 5.

    Jenkins (2001) 3; Beard (2010) 162-168.

  6. 6.

    For the debate about the iconography of the frieze, see Sect. 2.2.2.

  7. 7.

    St Clair (1998) 304.

  8. 8.

    Jenkins (2002) 19.

  9. 9.

    Beard (2010) 163-168.

  10. 10.

    Beard (2010) 167-168.

  11. 11.

    Beard (2010) 167.

  12. 12.

    Osborne (1987) 105. See also Neils (2001) 247.

  13. 13.

    Chris Hastings, ‘Revealed: How Rowdy Schoolboys Knocked a Leg off one of the Elgin Marbles’, The Telegraph (15 May 2005).

  14. 14.

    Chris Hastings, ‘Revealed: How Rowdy Schoolboys Knocked a Leg off one of the Elgin Marbles’, The Telegraph (15 May 2005).

  15. 15.

    Memorandum (1811) 39.

  16. 16.

    Memorandum (1811) 40.

  17. 17.

    Hamilton to Elgin (23 June 1807), cited in Smith (1916) 297-298.

  18. 18.

    St Clair (1998) 150.

  19. 19.

    Richter and Hall (1944) 236.

  20. 20.

    British Museum (1830) 26, see also 10-11.

  21. 21.

    St Clair (1998) 51.

  22. 22.

    St Clair (1998) 51.

  23. 23.

    Vlassopoulou (2010) 219.

  24. 24.

    Neils (2001) 88; Ridgway (1999) 117-118; Harrison (1988) 339.

  25. 25.

    Neils (2001) 88.

  26. 26.

    Neils (2001) 89.

  27. 27.

    This is horseman 17. The chlamys was a short cloak-like garment sometimes worn by soldiers and horsemen. Typically secured on the right shoulder with a brooch, it left the right arm free to move easily. See https://www.theacropolismuseum.gr/en/parthenon-west-frieze-block-9-ix.

  28. 28.

    For a discussion, see Vlassopoulou (2010) 220, 222, and figs 165-167. That author describes the colour on horseman 17 as ‘light green’. The chemical composition of the pigment is not provided.

  29. 29.

    Neils (2001) 89; Connelly (2014) Chap. 5 (unnumbered page).

  30. 30.

    E.g. see Richter and Hall (1944) 237-238 Eaverly (2013).

  31. 31.

    Ridgway (1999) 117-118; Neils (2001) 89; Vlassopoulou (2010) 219. See also Chap. 2, text to n 62.

  32. 32.

    Neils (2001) 90; Vlassopoulou (2010) 219.

  33. 33.

    Neils (2001) 90-91.

  34. 34.

    Jenkins and Middleton (1988) 198; St Clair (1998) 287.

  35. 35.

    St Clair (1998) 287-288.

  36. 36.

    Aggelakopoulou and Bakolas (2022).

  37. 37.

    Galanos and Doganis (2003) 3; del Monte and Sabbioni (1987) 114-116; St Clair (1998) 285.

  38. 38.

    St Clair (1998) 285.

  39. 39.

    St Clair (1998) 286.

  40. 40.

    Jenkins (1990) 102.

  41. 41.

    Jenkins and Middleton (1988) 185.

  42. 42.

    British Museum (1830) 26, see also 10-11.

  43. 43.

    Jenkins and Middleton (1988) 185-186. See also Jenkins (2001) 4.

  44. 44.

    Jenkins and Middleton (1988) 185-186.

  45. 45.

    See in general Jenkins (1990).

  46. 46.

    St Clair (1998) 286.

  47. 47.

    Jenkins (1990) 109; St Clair (1998) 287.

  48. 48.

    Jenkins (1990) 109; St Clair (1998) 287.

  49. 49.

    These are reproduced in Jenkins (2001) 5. We read, for instance:

    Sir – I have seen with amazement and indignation the Colosseum … “restored” in part …, its crevices plastered up and the rich, varied, golden hue, the result of nearly 2,000 Italian summers, obliterated by a monotonous coating of filthy colour. … [O]n walking through the Elgin room at the British Museum to-day I witnessed proceedings which in absurdity and atrocity may vie with [this].

    Sir, they are scrubbing the Elgin Marbles!

    The criticism did not only concern the cleaning of the Parthenon marbles. The following letter refers to a marble portrait bust from the Townley collection:

    The vandalism complained of [in the letter cited above] has been of some duration and first attracted my attention on the opening of the new Graeco-Roman Saloons. Last Christmas I saw a man scrubbing away with some vile compound. The celebrated bust of “Clytie”, one of the most beautiful antiques existing, has had its face mauled in this manner, and I am positive that anything beyond the simplest application of water, and that by persons acquainted with the exquisite finesse of sculptured flesh, must prove prejudicial to such a work. I am told this bust was cleaned about ten years ago, and if the scrubbing process is to be renewed every now and then we may bid adieu to the antique beauty of these marbles. Blurred edging and modelling … will be the inevitable result with the loss of all those delicate touches which give life and individuality, and over which the sculptor lingered lovingly at the completion of his work. Time needs no human assistance to destroy.

  50. 50.

    St Clair (1998) 289.

  51. 51.

    Dodwell (1819) 344.

  52. 52.

    St Clair (1998) 289; contra Jenkins (2001) 1.

  53. 53.

    St Clair (1998) 289.

  54. 54.

    St Clair (1998) 283-284.

  55. 55.

    Jenkins (2001) 4.

  56. 56.

    Mahaffy (1878) 39.

  57. 57.

    Mahaffy (1878) 35-42; cf Hervé (1837) 126.

  58. 58.

    St Clair (1998) 290-291.

  59. 59.

    Vanessa Heggie, ‘Over 200 Years of Deadly London Air: Smogs, Fogs, and Pea soupers’, The Guardian (9 December 2016).

  60. 60.

    Geoffrey Lean, ‘The Great Smog of London: The Air Was Thick with Apathy’, The Telegraph (6 December 2012); Vanessa Heggie, ‘Over 200 Years of Deadly London Air: Smogs, Fogs, and Pea soupers’, The Guardian (9 December 2016).

  61. 61.

    St Clair (1998) 290-291.

  62. 62.

    St Clair (1998) 290-291.

  63. 63.

    AG Thornton, “‘Patina’ Was Just Dirt to this Cleaner’, The Star (21 March 1939), as cited in Jenkins (2001) appendix 11 (‘Passing over the hopeless ones who think that the Elgin Marbles are a Scottish ground game, we come to the larger artistic minority who do not know a patina when they see it’).

  64. 64.

    Epstein (1940) 167-168.

  65. 65.

    Epstein (1940) 167-168.

  66. 66.

    Epstein (1940) 168.

  67. 67.

    Epstein (1940) 170-173.

  68. 68.

    Epstein (1940) 173.

  69. 69.

    St Clair (1998) 293.

  70. 70.

    St Clair (1998) 293; Simpson (1987).

  71. 71.

    St Clair (1998) 293.

  72. 72.

    St Clair (1998) 295.

  73. 73.

    Lindsay (1984) 537 (diary entry of 8 May 1931).

  74. 74.

    St Clair (1998) 295.

  75. 75.

    St Clair (1998) 295.

  76. 76.

    St Clair (1998) 295.

  77. 77.

    Jenkins (2001) 6.

  78. 78.

    Extracts from the Report of the Board of Enquiry (December 1938), reproduced in St Clair (1998) 342-344.

  79. 79.

    Extracts from the Report of the Board of Enquiry (December 1938), reproduced in St Clair (1998) 342-344.

  80. 80.

    St Clair (1998) 296. On the Mohs Hardness Scale, carborundum scores 9 out of 10.

  81. 81.

    Extracts from the Report of the Board of Enquiry (December 1938), reproduced in St Clair (1998) 342-344. This is not the only head of a horse from Selene’s chariot. Other two heads are in the Acropolis Museum, while a fourth, possibly a victim of the 1687 Venetian bomb, has been lost, see Acropolis Museum, ‘Parthenon. East Pediment. Heads of Horses’ https://theacropolismuseum.gr/en/parthenon-east-pediment-heads-horses.

  82. 82.

    St Clair (1998) 296.

  83. 83.

    St Clair (1998) 296.

  84. 84.

    Extracts from the Report of the Board of Enquiry (December 1938), reproduced in St Clair (1998) 342-344; Minutes of British Museum Standing Committee, meeting on 8 October 1938, reproduced in St Clair (1998) 342.

  85. 85.

    Minutes of British Museum Standing Committee, meeting on 8 October 1938, reproduced in St Clair (1998) 342.

  86. 86.

    St Clair (1998) 296-297.

  87. 87.

    St Clair (1998) 297.

  88. 88.

    St Clair (1998) 297.

  89. 89.

    St Clair (1998) 296.

  90. 90.

    St Clair (1998) 297.

  91. 91.

    Extracts from the Report of the Board of Enquiry (December 1938), reproduced in St Clair (1998) 343.

  92. 92.

    Epstein (1940) 169.

  93. 93.

    Epstein (1940) 169.

  94. 94.

    Epstein (1940) 169.

  95. 95.

    Epstein (1940) 169.

  96. 96.

    Epstein (1940) 172-173.

  97. 97.

    Extracts from the Report of the Board of Enquiry (December 1938), reproduced in St Clair (1998) 343.

  98. 98.

    Extracts from the Report of the Board of Enquiry (December 1938) and Extracts from the Second Report of the Board of Enquiry (December 1938), reproduced in St Clair (1998) 344-345.

  99. 99.

    Extracts from the Second Report of the Board of Enquiry (December 1938), reproduced in St Clair (1998) 345.

  100. 100.

    Extracts from the Report of the Board of Enquiry (December 1938), reproduced in St Clair (1998) 344.

  101. 101.

    Extracts from the Report of the Board of Enquiry (December 1938), reproduced in St Clair (1998) 344.

  102. 102.

    Extracts from the Report of the Board of Enquiry (December 1938), reproduced in St Clair (1998) 344.

  103. 103.

    Peers to Forsdyke (3 December 1938), cited in Jenkins (2001) 9.

  104. 104.

    Forsdyke’s letter of 15 December 1938, cited in Jenkins (2001) 9.

  105. 105.

    E.g. see George Hill’s letter to the Times, cited in Epstein (1940) 171, denying the use of copper tools to clean the marbles (‘no “cleaning” other than simple washing with neutral soap and distilled water is authorised in the Museum’).

  106. 106.

    Extracts from the Second Report of the Board of Enquiry (December 1938), reproduced in St Clair (1998) 345.

  107. 107.

    Extracts from the Second Report of the Board of Enquiry (December 1938), reproduced in St Clair (1998) 345.

  108. 108.

    Extracts from the Second Report of the Board of Enquiry (December 1938), reproduced in St Clair (1998) 345. It is surprising that in a memorandum submitted to parliament by the British Museum as recently as 2000 we read that the trustees had ‘resolved to publish a full report on the effects of the cleaning, but the outbreak of war intervened’, House of Commons (2000), annex IV, para 5.2.

  109. 109.

    St Clair (1998) 299; contrast Jenkins (2001) 18, who whoever does not rule out the possibility that a colour coating was applied.

  110. 110.

    St Clair (1998) 300.

  111. 111.

    Jenkins (2001) 9-10 and appendix 11; Epstein (1940) 169-170; Harold Nicolson, ‘The Byron Curse Echoes Again’, The New York Times (27 March 1949).

  112. 112.

    St Clair (1998) 301; Jenkins (2001) 10.

  113. 113.

    St Clair (1998) 301. A similar statement was made sometime later by a minister in the House of Commons, ibid 302.

  114. 114.

    St Clair (1998) 299.

  115. 115.

    St Clair (1998) 303.

  116. 116.

    St Clair (1998) 303.

  117. 117.

    St Clair (1998) 303.

  118. 118.

    St Clair (1998) 303.

  119. 119.

    St Clair (1998) 303.

  120. 120.

    St Clair (1998) 305.

  121. 121.

    Hansard (1983).

  122. 122.

    Jenkins (2001).

  123. 123.

    Jenkins (2001) 30.

  124. 124.

    Jenkins (2001) 30.

  125. 125.

    See respectively ‘The Parthenon Sculptures’ https://www.britishmuseum.org/about-us/british-museum-story/contested-objects-collection/parthenon-sculptures and annex, ‘The Parthenon Sculptures: The Trustees’ Statement’ (British Museum).

  126. 126.

    British Museum, ‘Joseph Duveen, Baron Duveen of Millbank’ https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/term/BIOG26037 (information correct as of November 2022).

  127. 127.

    Public Records Act (1967) c 44, amending Public Records Act 1958. The 30-year timeframe has more recently been reduced to 20 years, see Constitutional Reform and Governance Act (2010) c 25; The National Archives, ‘History of the Public Records Acts’ https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/information-management/legislation/public-records-act/history-of-pra/.

  128. 128.

    St Clair (1998) 306-307.

  129. 129.

    St Clair (1998) 307.

  130. 130.

    St Clair (1998) 308.

  131. 131.

    St Clair (1998) Chap. 24.

  132. 132.

    St Clair (1998) 308-310; cf Jenkins (2001) 28-30.

  133. 133.

    St Clair (1998) 308-309; Jenkins (2001) 13.

  134. 134.

    Jenkins and Middleton (1988) 188 and passim; Kasia Weglowska, ‘Paint and the Parthenon: Conservation of Ancient Greek Sculpture’, British Museum Blog (23 May 2018). See also Payne (2021) 147.

  135. 135.

    St Clair (1998) 309.

  136. 136.

    St Clair (1998) 309.

  137. 137.

    St Clair (1998) 309.

  138. 138.

    St Clair (1998) 311-312; contra Jenkins (2001) 22.

  139. 139.

    Jenkins (2001) 22; Jenkins (1990) 112.

  140. 140.

    St Clair (1998) 311.

  141. 141.

    St Clair (1998) 312.

  142. 142.

    St Clair (1998) 309.

  143. 143.

    Robert Byron’s letter to The Times (14 May 1939), cited in Jenkins (2001) 10.

  144. 144.

    St Clair (1998) 336. See also US Congress, Senate, S Con Res 134 ‘Expressing the sense of the Congress that the Parthenon Marbles should be returned to Greece’, 108th Congress, 2nd session (22 July 2004).

  145. 145.

    St Clair (1998) 302.

  146. 146.

    St Clair (1998) 302.

  147. 147.

    St Clair (1998) 303; Jenkins (2001) 12.

  148. 148.

    Harold Nicolson, ‘The Byron Curse Echoes Again’, The New York Times (27 March 1949).

  149. 149.

    St Clair (1998) 304.

  150. 150.

    Mary Beard (2010) 162; cf St Clair (1998) 304, who refers to a 1961 reopening. The author has on file the copy of a British Museum document that confirms that the transfer of the marbles to the Duveen Gallery was completed in 1962. However, on the website of the British Museum, we read that the Parthenon marbles ‘have been on permanent display since 1817’, although we know this to be inaccurate, see https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/galleries/greece-parthenon (information correct as of November 2022).

  151. 151.

    Maev Kennedy, ‘Mutual Attacks Mar Elgin Marbles Debate’, The Guardian (1 December 1999); Warren Hoge, ‘London Journal; On Seeing the Elgin Marbles, With Sandwiches’, The New York Times (2 December 1999).

  152. 152.

    Maev Kennedy, ‘Mutual Attacks Mar Elgin Marbles Debate’, The Guardian (1 December 1999).

  153. 153.

    Warren Hoge, ‘London Journal; On Seeing the Elgin Marbles, With Sandwiches’, The New York Times (2 December 1999); Maev Kennedy, ‘Mutual Attacks Mar Elgin Marbles Debate’, The Guardian (1 December 1999).

  154. 154.

    Warren Hoge, ‘London Journal; On Seeing the Elgin Marbles, With Sandwiches’, The New York Times (2 December 1999).

  155. 155.

    See annex, ‘The Parthenon Sculptures: The Trustees’ Statement’ (British Museum); Steven Erlanger, ‘Greek Statue Travels Again, but Not to Greece’ The New York Times (5 December 2014).

  156. 156.

    Ben Hoyle and Jack Malvern, ‘Elgin Marbles Moved out of Britain for First Time’, The Times (5 December 2014); Ben Hoyle, Jack Malvern, and Philippe Naughton, ‘Greek PM Furious after Britain Loans Elgin Marble to Russia’, The Times (5 December 2014); Steven Erlanger, ‘Greek Statue Travels Again, but Not to Greece’, The New York Times (5 December 2014).

  157. 157.

    Dan Hicks, ‘The UK Has Held onto the Parthenon Marbles for Centuries – But the Tide Is Turning. Here’s Why I Expect Them to Be Returned by 2030’, Artnet News (15 December 2021); Craig Simpson, ‘British Museum’s Leaking Roof Proves Elgin Marbles Should Be Returned to Greece, Say Officials’, The Telegraph (14 August 2021). See further ‘As Infrastructure Crumbles, British Museum Plans to Fix Parthenon Marbles Gallery Next’, The Art Newspaper (3 November 2022).

  158. 158.

    Cristina Ruiz, ‘Is it Raining Again in the British Museum’s Parthenon Gallery?’, The Art Newspaper (11 August 2021); Craig Simpson, ‘British Museum’s Leaking Roof Proves Elgin Marbles Should Be Returned to Greece, Say Officials’, The Telegraph (14 August 2021).

  159. 159.

    Cristina Ruiz, ‘Is it Raining Again in the British Museum’s Parthenon Gallery?’, The Art Newspaper (11 August 2021).

  160. 160.

    Cristina Ruiz, ‘Is it Raining Again in the British Museum’s Parthenon Gallery?’, The Art Newspaper (11 August 2021).

  161. 161.

    George Vardas, as cited in Craig Simpson, ‘British Museum’s Leaking Roof Proves Elgin Marbles Should Be Returned to Greece, Say Officials’, The Telegraph (14 August 2021).

  162. 162.

    For a discussion and refutation, see Hitchens (2008) 101-104.

  163. 163.

    Chapter 1, text to n 181.

  164. 164.

    Jonathan Williams (British Museum deputy director), as cited in Helena Smith, ‘Greece Rebuts British Museum Claim Parthenon Marbles Were “Removed from Rubble”’, The Guardian (23 May 2022).

  165. 165.

    George Gordon Byron, ‘Letter on the Rev WL Bowles’ Strictures on the Life and Writings of Pope’ (7 February 1821).

  166. 166.

    Harold Nicolson, ‘The Byron Curse Echoes Again’, The New York Times (27 March 1949).

  167. 167.

    Robert Anderson, then director of the British Museum, as cited in Imogen Tilden, ‘Elgin Marbles Will Never Leave UK, Says Museum Chief’, The Guardian (15 January 2002).

  168. 168.

    St Clair (2022) 433.

  169. 169.

    Rudenstine (2021) 413.

  170. 170.

    Rudenstine (2021) 413.

  171. 171.

    Elgin to Lusieri (23 December 1801), cited in Smith (1916) 207 (emphasis added).

  172. 172.

    British Museum, ‘The Parthenon Sculptures’ https://www.britishmuseum.org/about-us/british-museum-story/contested-objects-collection/parthenon-sculptures.

  173. 173.

    The drawing is available on the British Museum website here: https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/G_1853-0307-109.

  174. 174.

    E.g. contrast the watercolour by Lusieri painted in the same year after the removal of some metopes, available on the website of National Galleries Scotland: https://www.nationalgalleries.org/art-and-artists/20528/south-east-corner-parthenon-athens. Contrast further especially the 1813 depiction of the same corner in Hobhouse (1813) (plate appearing between 342-343).

  175. 175.

    Michaelis (1882) 135; Merryman (1985) 1899; Rudenstine (2021) 461.

  176. 176.

    Magne (1895) 28 and passim; Magne (1905); St Clair (2022) 463.

  177. 177.

    St Clair (2022) 464.

  178. 178.

    St Clair (1998) 64, 123.

  179. 179.

    St Clair (1998) 64.

  180. 180.

    Smith (1916) 357.

  181. 181.

    Smith (1916) 357-365.

  182. 182.

    Auguste de Choiseul-Gouffier, cited in St Clair (1998) 63 (author’s translation).

  183. 183.

    St Clair (1998) 63-64.

  184. 184.

    Select Committee (1816) 7. However, see Chap. 3, text to nn 62-64.

  185. 185.

    Merryman (1985) 1905-1906. Contrast de Visscher (1949) 828.

  186. 186.

    See also Baynes (1843) 219.

  187. 187.

    See Chap. 2, text to nn 159-163.

  188. 188.

    Dodwell (1819) 324-325 (emphasis in original). Notice the emphasis, which shows that Dodwell doubted the truthfulness of this statement. Hugh W Williams too was sceptical about this story, see Williams (1820) 317-320.

  189. 189.

    Beard (2010) 85.

  190. 190.

    Dodwell (1819) 325.

  191. 191.

    Dodwell (1819) 324-325; Williams (1820) 316-323; Greenhalgh (2019) 403-404.

  192. 192.

    Select Committee (1816) 41-42.

  193. 193.

    Select Committee (1816) 41. A similar tale had already been concocted in Memorandum (1815) 15-16.

  194. 194.

    Select Committee (1816) 57.

  195. 195.

    Select Committee (1816) 5.

  196. 196.

    Dodwell (1819) 325 (emphasis added).

  197. 197.

    Dodwell (1819) 325.

  198. 198.

    The high regard in which the Parthenon was held by the Ottomans, including by the seventeenth-century Ottoman traveller Evliya Çelebi, is documented in the work of Elizabeth Key Fowden, e.g. see Fowden (2019) and Fowden (2018).

  199. 199.

    Dodwell (1819) 325 (emphasis added).

  200. 200.

    There are contradictory accounts about how much was destroyed during the Greek war of independence, with some authors expressing the opinion that the damage to the buildings was minimal, e.g. Wines (1833) 298; Delaroière (1836) 33-34; Browning (2008) 12; St Clair (2022) 360, 369-370, 391, 431-432, etc.; or, at the very least, that the state of preservation of the buildings after the war of independence was extraordinary, e.g. Napier (1842) 370; d’Estourmel (1848) 95.

  201. 201.

    Merryman (1985) 1909.

  202. 202.

    Merryman (1985) 1906, contrast 1909.

  203. 203.

    See also Harold Nicolson, ‘The Byron Curse Echoes Again’, The New York Times (27 March 1949).

  204. 204.

    See Chap. 2, text to 183.

  205. 205.

    St Clair (1998) 319. See also Voudouri (2010) 458.

  206. 206.

    St Clair (1998) 319.

  207. 207.

    About (1863) 221-222.

  208. 208.

    Similar comment in St Clair (1998) 320.

  209. 209.

    St Clair (1998) 320.

  210. 210.

    See de Visscher (1949) 828; cf Quatremère de Quincy (1836) 224-225, discussing Morosini (‘Morosini had an excuse: it was from barbarians that he took this masterpiece. But you see that, by a false love of the arts, he ruined in one day what the barbarism of so many centuries had respected. So true it is, that in everything, nothing is so dangerous as an ignorant friend’, author’s translation, emphasis in original).

  211. 211.

    Payne (2021) 57-58, figs 3.1-3.2; Jenkins (1990) 112.

  212. 212.

    Karl E Meyer, ‘Opinion – Editorial Notebook: Let Greece Have the Marbles’, The New York Times (18 May 1997).

  213. 213.

    Jenkins (2001) 4, 6.

  214. 214.

    Acropolis Museum, ‘Research and Conservation – New Technologies: Laser’ https://theacropolismuseum.gr/en/new-technologies/laser.

  215. 215.

    Frantzikinaki and others (2007). See also Acropolis Museum, ‘Research and Conservation – New Technologies: Laser’ https://theacropolismuseum.gr/en/new-technologies/laser; YSMA, ‘Completed Interventions’ https://www.ysma.gr/en/monuments/parthenon/completed-interventions/.

  216. 216.

    Acropolis Museum, ‘Research and Conservation – New Technologies: Laser’ https://theacropolismuseum.gr/en/new-technologies/laser.

  217. 217.

    Vlassopoulou (2006) 267; Vlassopoulou (2010) 220.

  218. 218.

    Dalya Alberge, ‘Sharp Relief of the Marbles Elgin Left Behind’, The Times (25 November 2004).

  219. 219.

    Hitchens (2008) xx. See also Baynes (1843) 220 (‘If we do not replace [the marbles] we act as an individual who, having taken part of his neighbour’s property into his house to preserve it during a conflagration, should refuse to return it, when the flames were extinguished’).

  220. 220.

    Stewart (2001) 55.

  221. 221.

    For a similar argument, see Robertson (2019) Chap. 5 (unnumbered page).

  222. 222.

    To take an example from pre-covid visits, in 2017-2018, the British Museum had 3.7 million overseas visitors, British Museum, ‘Report and Accounts for the Year Ended 31 March 2018’ (2018) 27. If three out of ten visited the Duveen Gallery, this means that only 1.11 million overseas visitors saw the marbles. For the same year, the Acropolis Museum had 1.67 million visitors and it appears that about 70% of them were international visitors, Acropolis Museum, ‘A Highlights Report June 2017-May 2018: Year Nine’ (2018). If we take it for granted that all visitors to the Acropolis Museum visit the Parthenon Gallery, this means that about 1.17 million international visitors saw the marbles in the Acropolis Museum. In any case, the numbers are a bad argument about where the marbles should be.

  223. 223.

    Merryman (1985) 1920.

  224. 224.

    Merryman (1985) 1920-1921.

  225. 225.

    British Museum, Fact Sheet (2019) https://www.britishmuseum.org/sites/default/files/2019-10/fact_sheet_bm_collection.pdf. It appears that more than 100,000 Greek artefacts are kept in the museum’s storerooms, see Hansard (2022a), intervention by Alfred Dubs.

  226. 226.

    These are just some items of the Elgin collection that according to the museum’s website are not on display as of September 2022. This information is accessible by consulting each item’s individual page.

  227. 227.

    Jenkins (1990) 107; About (1863) 221.

  228. 228.

    Jenkins (1990) 107.

  229. 229.

    Hansard (1997).

  230. 230.

    Greenfield (2007) 68.

  231. 231.

    Imogen Tilden, ‘Elgin Marbles Will Never Leave UK, Says Museum Chief’, The Guardian (15 January 2002).

  232. 232.

    Merryman (1985) 1889.

  233. 233.

    Wallace-Hadrill (2006) 187.

  234. 234.

    Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (World Heritage Convention) arts 11, 15.

  235. 235.

    Merryman (1985) 1916.

  236. 236.

    See Sect. 6.3.2.

  237. 237.

    Neils (2001) 243.

  238. 238.

    Hitchens (2008) xvii.

  239. 239.

    Alan Mole’s letter to The Telegraph (23 May 2022).

  240. 240.

    Neils (2001) 243.

  241. 241.

    Neils (2001) 243.

  242. 242.

    Neils (2001) 243; cf Merryman (1985) 1911.

  243. 243.

    Neils (2001) 243.

  244. 244.

    Neils (2001) 243.

  245. 245.

    Harold Nicolson, ‘The Byron Curse Echoes Again’, The New York Times (27 March 1949).

  246. 246.

    Harold Nicolson, ‘The Byron Curse Echoes Again’, The New York Times (27 March 1949).

  247. 247.

    Harold Nicolson, ‘The Byron Curse Echoes Again’, The New York Times (27 March 1949).

  248. 248.

    Merryman (1985) 1895.

  249. 249.

    Robert Anderson, ‘Opinion: Great Museums’ Mission’ The New York Times (7 February 2002) (emphasis added).

  250. 250.

    Neils (2001) 244.

  251. 251.

    Neils (2001) 244.

  252. 252.

    See Chap. 5, text to nn 35-36. See also Celestine Bohlen, ‘Greece Affirms Limits to Elgin Marble Claim’, The New York Times (13 December 2002).

  253. 253.

    Merryman (1986).

  254. 254.

    Merryman reiterated his positions in later publications, see e.g. Merryman (1988); Merryman (2005).

  255. 255.

    Merryman (1986); Merryman (2005).

  256. 256.

    Merryman’s distinction between the 1954 Hague Convention and the 1970 UNESCO Convention relies on an out-of-context reading of a recital in the preamble to the 1954 Hague Convention. In fact, the two conventions are aligned, in that they both protect cultural heritage in wartime and in peace respectively. The conventions are discussed in Sect. 9.2.1.

  257. 257.

    See https://en.unesco.org/fighttrafficking/1970. See also Chap. 1, text to n 146.

  258. 258.

    Compare Merryman (1986) 843 with the states listed as parties to the 1970 UNESCO Convention https://en.unesco.org/fighttrafficking/1970.

  259. 259.

    It is interesting that he did not seem to draw the parallel with the fact that market countries too pass laws that prevent the deaccession of items in their collections.

  260. 260.

    Merryman (1988) 489-490.

  261. 261.

    See also Bator (1982) 303, 307 (‘The Elgin marbles are part of England’s national patrimony. All such works of art are part of the national capital: They generate income (by attracting tourists, etc.) and they can produce social and psychological benefits for a country and its inhabitants’, emphasis removed); Cuno (2011) xii.

  262. 262.

    Declaration on the Importance and Value of Universal Museums (2002) https://bit.ly/36QkIyk.

  263. 263.

    Merryman (1986) 831.

  264. 264.

    Nafziger (2008) 202-203.

  265. 265.

    Nafziger (2008) 203.

  266. 266.

    Fincham (2013) 954-955, 1001. For a discussion of the destruction caused by the trade in unprovenanced antiquities, see Brodie (2006); Brodie (2004); Chippindale and Gill (2000).

  267. 267.

    Nafziger (2008) 203.

  268. 268.

    Prott (2005) 228 (emphasis removed).

  269. 269.

    Merryman (1986) 850.

  270. 270.

    Merryman (1986) 851.

  271. 271.

    Richard Morrison, ‘Neil MacGregor: “There Is No Possibility of Putting the Elgin Marbles Back”’, The Times (7 November 2014).

  272. 272.

    Chapter 1, text to n 92.

  273. 273.

    This leaves out more than half of the museum’s collection, 4.5 million objects, which are neither online nor on public display, see text to n 225.

  274. 274.

    See annex, ‘The Parthenon Sculptures: The Trustees’ Statement’ (British Museum).

  275. 275.

    David Sanderson, ‘Minister Rules Out Return of Treasures’, The Times (22 April 2019).

  276. 276.

    O’Neill (2004) 199.

  277. 277.

    O’Neill (2004).

  278. 278.

    Quatremère de Quincy (1796) 20. Elsewhere, he discussed Morosini’s vandalism: ‘Do you not think you see Morosini stripping the pediment of the Parthenon in Athens to transport two figures to Venice? I ask you, what would these fragments mean, detached from their mass and their context?’, Quatremère de Quincy (1836) 224-225 (author’s translation).

  279. 279.

    This line of argument was repeated by British Museum director Hartwig Fischer, in a letter to The Times in March 2020, see ‘Letters to the Editor: Greeks Should be Glad we Have the Marbles’, The Times (1 March 2020).

  280. 280.

    This approach was further fleshed out in a recent statement by Hartwig Fischer: ‘yes, these sculptures have been displaced, they have been taken from the place for which they were created and put in another context. So what is missing in Athens is present in London in a different context that triggers other kinds of thoughts and other types of creativity.’ But he failed to explain what these ‘other kinds of thoughts’ and ‘other types of creativity’ are. In a similar statement, Ian Jenkins said: ‘They are working here the way they should do, as a gift to the world from antiquity. They transcend their original function as ornaments and become art objects.’ For the statements, see Kaya Burgess and Anthee Carassava, ‘Auguste Rodin’s Case for Elgin Marbles to Remain at British Museum’, The Times (12 January 2018).

  281. 281.

    Dalrymple and Anand (2016) 8.

  282. 282.

    cf Neils (2001) 247.

  283. 283.

    E.g. Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990; Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979; Ancient Monuments Protection Act 1882.

  284. 284.

    Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention, WHC.21/01 (31 July 2021), paras 87-95.

  285. 285.

    Chapter 7, text to nn 108-112.

  286. 286.

    Andrew Wallce-Hadrill’s letter to The Times, ‘Times Letters: The Case for Returning the Elgin Marbles’, The Times (12 January 2022).

  287. 287.

    US Congress, Senate, S Con Res 134 ‘Expressing the sense of the Congress that the Parthenon Marbles should be returned to Greece’, 108th Congress, 2nd session (22 July 2004). A similar plea asking for the return of the marbles to Greece has been repeated more recently, see Nick Allen and others, ‘US Members of Congress Urge Britain to Return Elgin Marbles to Greece Next Year’, The Telegraph (21 September 2020).

  288. 288.

    Snodgrass (2000), para 3.1.

  289. 289.

    See Chap. 10, text to nn 66-67 and 130-134. On the return of the Vatican fragments, see Acropolis Museum, ‘Permanent Reunification of Parthenon Fragments from the Vatican Museums to the Acropolis Museum’ (Press release, 24 March 2023).

  290. 290.

    See text to nn 179-180 and Chap. 2, text to n 150.

  291. 291.

    Mark Bridge and Anthee Carassava, ‘Greece Can’t Borrow Elgin Marbles until it Drops Claim’, The Times (4 September 2019).

  292. 292.

    George Osborne, ‘It’s Right to Be Proud of the British Museum’, The Times (3 December 2021).

  293. 293.

    Cooper (1965).

  294. 294.

    Linda Wolk-Simon and Frank Dabell, ‘Raphael at the Metropolitan: The Colonna Altarpiece’ (2006) 63(4) The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 4. See also The National Gallery, ‘Studying Raphael: Division of Altarpieces’ https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/research/research-resources/studying-raphael/studying-raphael-division-of-altarpieces.

  295. 295.

    The Met, ‘Raphael at the Metropolitan: The Colonna Altarpiece’ (Press release, 19 May 2006).

  296. 296.

    Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, ‘Jean Fouquet. The Melun Diptych’ (2018) https://www.smb.museum/en/exhibitions/detail/jean-fouquet-the-melun-diptych/.

  297. 297.

    Christopher Hitchens, ‘Opinion: A Home for the Marbles’ The New York Times (18 June 2009).

  298. 298.

    This information is available on the website of the Acropolis Museum, https://theacropolismuseum.gr/en, in the description of the individual figures. E.g. for Poseidon, see https://theacropolismuseum.gr/en/parthenon-west-pediment-poseidon. In the Acropolis Museum, the original marbles are joined with plaster casts of the original parts in the British Museum (and in other museums), which makes the identification of the figures that are torn easy.

  299. 299.

    See Chap. 2, text to nn 201-202.

  300. 300.

    Richard Morrison, ‘Neil MacGregor: “There Is No Possibility of Putting the Elgin Marbles Back”’, The Times (7 November 2014).

  301. 301.

    Greenfield (2007) 71-72.

  302. 302.

    Hitchens (2008) xiii.

  303. 303.

    See Sect. 5.3.2.

  304. 304.

    British Museum Act 1963 s 3(4).

  305. 305.

    British Museum Act 1963 s 9(1); Museums and Galleries Act 1992 s 6 and schedule 5.

  306. 306.

    British Museum Act 1963 s 5(1).

  307. 307.

    ‘British Museum Act 1963 s 5(2). See further British Museum Policy: De-accession of Objects from the Collection’ (2018) https://bit.ly/3Dm6zVR.

  308. 308.

    Attorney General v Trustees of the British Museum [2005] EWHC (Ch).

  309. 309.

    Attorney General v Trustees of the British Museum [2005] EWHC (Ch) [2], [5].

  310. 310.

    Attorney General v Trustees of the British Museum [2005] EWHC (Ch) [6].

  311. 311.

    Attorney General v Trustees of the British Museum [2005] EWHC (Ch) [45]; contrast Re Snowden [1970] EWHC (Ch) 700.

  312. 312.

    Attorney General v Trustees of the British Museum [2005] EWHC (Ch) [46].

  313. 313.

    Successive directors of the British Museum have invoked the fact that the museum is bound by deaccession legislation, see Imogen Tilden, ‘Elgin Marbles Will Never Leave UK, Says Museum Chief’, The Guardian (15 January 2002); ‘Interview by Ioannis Andritsopoulos: Ta Nea’s UK correspondent with the Director of the British Museum, Hartwig Fischer’ (undated) https://bit.ly/3ruvyBL.

  314. 314.

    See Sect. 5.3.2.

  315. 315.

    ILC Articles on State Responsibility art 3, also art 32. See also ILC Articles on State Responsibility, commentary, art 3, paras 1, 3-6, including examples from the case law; Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties art 27, referring to performance of treaty obligations; Crawford (2013) 101.

  316. 316.

    Crawford (2013) 101. See also ILC Articles on State Responsibility, commentary, art 3, paras 3-5.

  317. 317.

    ILC Articles on State Responsibility art 3.

  318. 318.

    See also ILC Articles on State Responsibility, commentary, art 3, para 1.

  319. 319.

    E.g. Geraldine Kendall Adams, ‘Culture Secretary Rules Out Restitution from National Museums’, Museums Association (25 April 2019) https://bit.ly/3qyGy03. See further Hansard (2022b).

  320. 320.

    Roger Michel’s letter to The Times, ‘Rules over Elgin Marbles’, The Times (8 September 2022); Samantha Knights, as cited in Alex Marshall, ‘As Europe Returns Artifacts, Britain Stays Silent’, The New York Times (20 December 2021). See also Greenfield (2007) 103-104.

  321. 321.

    However, see Greenfield (2007) 104, who mentions that some minor returns have taken place, although it is unclear under which section of the British Museum Act 1963.

  322. 322.

    ‘British Museum Policy: De-accession of Objects from the Collection’ (2018) https://bit.ly/3Dm6zVR 3.5.

  323. 323.

    See Chap. 5, text to n 55.

  324. 324.

    In Attorney General v Trustees of the British Museum [2005] EWHC (Ch), the High Court could have taken the view that the return of the Nazi looted drawings could rely on the ‘unfit’ exception, but it did not.

  325. 325.

    Attorney General v Trustees of the British Museum [2005] EWHC (Ch) [38]-[39]. See also Lewis (2016) 122-123.

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Titi, C. (2023). The British Museum and the Marbles. In: The Parthenon Marbles and International Law. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-26357-6_6

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