September 1, 2009

When permanent loans are possible after all

Posted at 12:52 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

For some time, Greece has suggested that the return of the Elgin Marbles could be made more easily possible by a long term / semi-permanent loan. On a regular basis though it is suggested that this does not resemble what is normally described as a loan – therefore it is unworkable & merely restitution via the back door. Some silver platters have just been returned to Switzerland – not something directly relevant to this case. What is interesting though is that although they were owned by St George Church at Hanover Square in London, they were held by the British Museum on permanent loan. So, whulst they might claim that the concept of a permanent loan is oxymoronic & refuse to enter into serious discussions, it appears that when the situation occurs in reverse thewy are perfectly happy with accepting such an unworkable proposition.


August 26, 2009 – 3:21 PM
History returns on a silver platter

Four silver plates nearly five centuries old have been repatriated from Britain to Switzerland.

The pieces, created by Swiss Renaissance painter Urs Graf in 1519, were purchased by the Basel History Museum and the Swiss National Museum from the British Museum for £400,000 (SFr694,000).

The nearly palm-sized silver plates were crafted for the monastery at St Urban. They had been most recently owned by the St George Church at Hanover Square in London, which had placed them on permanent loan to the British Museum.

Part of a series, several had already returned to Switzerland in 1890. The National Museum will now display six and the museum in Basel will display two.

Graf, born in 1485 in Solothurn, is considered the most important Swiss draftsman, engraver and goldsmith of the Renaissance. He is most noted for his woodcuts.

A citizen of Basel later in life, Graf ran aground with authorities for beating his wife and his support of prostitution. He was a mercenary.

Graf quit Basel in 1518 after being accused of attempted murder. He returned a year later but disappeared in 1527. The date of his death is unknown.

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1 Comment »

  1. Dr Selby Whittingham said,

    09.07.09 at 9:07 pm

    I am not clear how the British Museum can sell silver belonging to the church of St George Hanover Square?
    As regards long-term loans, the National Gallery practised such in the case of the Turner Bequest follow the 1883 National Gallery Act. Five Turners were lent to the National Gallery at Dublin to be there “permanently” (report in Dublin paper, 1884). They (and other Turners lent similarly at the same time) did in fact return to London by 1948. Meanwhile in 1907-8 it was agreed to lend most of the Turner Bequest to the Tate Gallery to hang in a new wing for it, again constituting a permanent loan, amounting to a transfer. the fact that this was illicit in the case of the Turner Bequest is another story.

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