September 25, 2008

The return of the Palermo Fragment

Posted at 9:43 am in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

A press release from the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles following the return of the Palermo fragment of the Parthenon Sculptures earlier this week.

British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles

Press Release
The British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles welcomes the return of the ‘Palermo fragment’ to Athens

YESTERDAY 24 September 2008, the President of the Italian Republic, on a state visit to Greece, brought with him, to present to his Greek counterpart, the ‘Palermo fragment’ from Slab VI of the East Frieze of the Parthenon on the Acropolis at Athens. It had spent more than two hundred years in Sicily, after being acquired by a British consul and passed on to the Salinas Museum in Palermo. It portrays, in exquisite detail, the draped lower leg, ankle and foot of a seated goddess, probably Artemis. It will immediately take its place in an inaugural exhibition of returned artefacts, at the brilliantly-designed New Acropolis Museum.

“On one level, the return of this 2500-year-old piece of sculpture was just a symbol of the friendly alignment of Italy and Greece on a range of political issues. But on another, it has a more immediate significance. Following on the return of the ‘Heidelberg foot’, a somewhat smaller fragment from the Parthenon’s North Frieze, two years ago, and of a piece from another Acropolis temple, the Erechtheion, by a retired Swedish teacher a little later, it looks like part of an inexorable chain reaction. We are looking forward to the news of further returns of Parthenon fragments, from other European museums” concluded Anthony Snodgrass, Chairman for the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles.

With every such move, the position of the British Museum, holder of by far the largest collection of exiled Parthenon pieces, the ‘Elgin Marbles’, becomes more and more isolated, surrounded as it is by museum curators and statesmen who have come to a different understanding of the ethical and aesthetic arguments. Not only were the so-called ‘Elgin Marbles’ detached, forcibly and destructively, from the building to which they belonged, but they are linked, by dozens of joins, to the other parts of the sculptures that have remained in Athens. To reunite this huge and unsurpassed work of art, on whatever terms are acceptable to the parties involved, is a supreme artistic mission for the present age.

“We congratulate the President and Government of Italy on taking the step in this direction” concludes Anthony Snodgrass.

Professor Snodgrass, Chairman for the BCRPM can be contacted on 01223 313 599 and Hon Secretary for the BCRPM Eleni Cubitt on 020 7226 6686

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