Page images
PDF
EPUB

was

no

question which can be solved only. dividual could have accomplished by conjecture and reasoning, in the removal of the remains which the absence and deficiency of all Lord Elgin obtained : and Doctor positive testimony. The Turkish Hunt, who had better opportuniministers of that day are, in fact, ties of information upon this point the only persons in the world ca- than any other person who has pable (if they are still alive) of been examined, gave it as his deciding the doubt; and it is decided opinion, that “a British probable that even they, if it were subject not in the situation of possible to consult them, might ambassador, could not have been be unable to form any very dis- able to obtain from the Turkish tinct discrimination as to the government a fermaun of such character in consideration of extensive powers." which they acceded to Lord El. It may not be unworthy of regin's request. The occasion made mark, that the only other piece thein, beyond all precedent, pro- of sculpture which was ever repitious to whatever was desired moved froin its place for the purin behalf of the English nation; pose of export was taken by they readily, therefore, complied Mr. Choiseul Gouffier, when he with all that was asked by Lord ambassador from France Elgin. He was an Englishman to the Porte; but whether he did of high rank; he was also am- it by express permission, or in bassador from our Court : they some less ostensible way, granted the same permission to means of ascertaining are within no other individual : but then, as the reach of your committee. It Lord Elgin observes, no other was undoubtedly at various times individual applied for it to the an object with the French gosaine extent, nor had indeed the vernment to obtain possession of same unlimited means for carry. some of these valuable remains, ing such an undertaking into exe- and it is probable, according to cution. The expression of one the testimony of Lord Aberdeen of the most intelligent and distin- and others, that at no great disguished of the British travellers, tance of time they might have. who visited Athens about the been removed by that government same period, appears to your from their original site, if they Committee to convey as correct a had not been taken away, and sejudgment as can be formed upon cured for this country by Lord this

question, which is incapable Elgin. of being satisfactorily separated, Ill. The third part is involved and must be taken in the aggre. in much less intricacy; and al. gate.

though in all matters of taste The Earl of Aberdeen, in an- there is room for great variety swer to an inquiry, whether the and latitude of opinion, there will authority and influence of a public be found upon this branch of the situation was in his opinion ne- subject much more uniformity cessary for accomplishing the re- and agreement than could have moval of these Marbles, answered been expected. The testimony of that he did not think a private in several of the most eminent artists Vol. LVIII.

8 G

ia

in this kingdom, who have been architects. Caught by the novelty, examined, rates these Marbles in attracted by the beauty, and enathe very first class of ancient art, moured of the perfection of those some placing them a little above, newly disclosed treasures, they and others but very little below imbibed the genuine spirit of anthe Apollo Belvidere, the Lao- cient excellence, and transfused it coon, and the Torso of the Bel- into their own compositions. videre. They speak of them with It is surprising to observe in admiration and enthusiasm : and the best of these Marbles in how notwithstanding the manifold in- great a degree the close imitation juries of time and weather, and of nature is combined with grana , those mutilations which they have deur of style, while the exact desustained from the fortuitous, or tails of the former in no degree designed injuries of neglect, or detract from the effect and premischief, they consider them as dominance of the latter. among the finest models, and the The two finest single figures most exquisite monuments of of this collection differ materially antiquity. The general current in this respect from the Apollo of this portion of the evidence Belvidere, which may be selected makes no doubt of referring the as the highest and most sublime date of these works to the ori-, representation of ideal form and ginal building of the Parthenon, beauty, which sculpture has ever and to the designs of Phidias, the embodied, and turned into shape. dawn of everything which adorned The evidence upon this part of and ennobled Greece. With this the inquiry will be read with saestimation of the excellence of tisfaction and interest, both where these works it is natural to con- it is immediately connected with clude, that they are recommended these Marbles, and where it by the same authorities as highly branches out into extraneous obfit, and admirably adapted to form servations, but all of them relata school for study, to improve our ing to the study of the Antique. national taste for the fine arts, A reference is made by one of the and to diffuse a more perfect witnesses to a sculptor, eminent knowledge of them throughout throughout Europe for his works, this kingdom.

who lately left this metropolis Much indeed may be reasonably highly gratified by the view of hoped and expected, from the these treasures of that branch of general observation and admira- art, which he has cultivated with tion of such distinguished exam- so much success. His own letter ples.. The end of the fifteenth to the Earl of Elgin upon this and beginning of the sixteenth subject is inserted in the Apcenturies enlightened by the dis- pendix. covery of several of the noblest. In the judgment of Mr. Payne remains of antiquity, produced Knight, whose valuation will be in Italy an abundant harvest of referred to in a subsequent page, the most eminent men, who made the first class is not assigned to gigantic advances in the path of the two principal statues of this art, as painters, sculptors, and collection ; but he rates the Metopes in the first class of works entire as a school of art, and a in high relief, and knows of study for the formation of artists. nothing so fine in that kind. He The competitors in the market, places also the frize in the first if it should be offered for sale class of low relief; and consider- without separation, could not be ing a general museum of art to numerous. Some of the Sovebe very desirable, he looks upon reigns of Europe, added to such such an addition to our national of the great galleries or national collection as likely to contribute institutions in various parts of to the improvement of the arts, the continent, as may possess and to become a very valuable funds at the disposal of their diacquisition ; for the importation rectors sufficient for such a purof which Lord Elgin is entitled to pose, would in all probability be the gratitude of his country. the only purchasers.

topes 2 G 2

IV. The directions of the House It is not however reasonable in the order of reference impose nor becoming the liberality of upon your committee the task of Parliament to withhold upon this forming and submitting an opi- account, whatever, under all the nion upon the fourth head, which circumstances, may be deemed a otherwise the scantiness of ma- just and adequate price; and more terials for fixing a pecuniary particularly in a case where Parvalue, and the unwillingness, or liament is left to fix its own valuinability in those who are prac ation, and no specific sum is detically most conversant in statuary manded, or even suggested by to afford any lights upon this part the party who offers the collection of the subject, would have rather to the publie. induced them to decline.

It is obvious that the money The produce of this collection, expended in the acquisition of any if it should be brought to sale in commodity is not necessarily the separate lots, in the present de- measure of its real value. The preciated state of almost every sum laid out in gaining possession article, and more particularly of of two articles of the same intrinsuch as

are of precarious and sic worth, may, and often does fanciful value, would probably be vary considerably. In making much inferior to what may be two excavations, for instance, of denominated its intrinsic value. equal magnitude and labour, a

The mutilated state of all the broken bust or some few fraglarger figures, the want either of ments may be discovered in the heads or features, of limbs or one, and a perfect statue in the surface, in most of the metopes, other. The first cost of the broken and in a great proportion of the bust and of the entire statue compartments even of the larger would in that case be the same; frize, render this collection, if but it cannot be said that the value divided, but little adapted to serve is therefore equal. In the same for the decoration of private manner, by the loss, or detention houses. It should therefore be of a ship, a great charge may considered as forming a whole, have been incurred, and the oriand should unquestionably be kept ginal outgoing excessively enhanced; but the value to the All the papers which are in his buyer will in no degree be affected possession upon this subject, inby the extraneous accidents. Sup- cluding a journal of above 90 posing again, artists to have been pages,

hanced ; 20,0001.

of the daily expenses of his engaged at considerable salaries principal artist Lusieri (from 1803 during a large period in which to the close of 1814) who still rethey could do little or nothing, mains in his employment at the first cost would be burden. Athens, together with the account some in this case also to the em- current of Messrs. Hayes, of ployer, but those who bought Malta, (from April 1807 to May would look only at the value of 1811) have been freely submitted the article in the market where to your committee; and there it might be exposed to sale, with- can be no doubt, from the inspecout caring, or inquiring how, or tion of those accounts, confirmed at what expense it was brought also by other testimony, that the thither.

disbursements were very considerSupposing, on the other hand, able; but supposing them to that the thirteen other metopes reach the full sum at which they had been bought at the Custom- are calculated, your committee do house sale at the same price which not hesitate to express their opichat of Mr. Choiseul Gouffier nion, that they afford no just crifetched, it could never be said, terion of the value of the collecwhat the value of them was no tion, and therefore must not be more than twenty-four or twenty- taken as a just basis for estimatfive pounds apiece.

ing it. It is perfectly just and rea- Two valuations, and only two sonable that the seller should en- in detail, have been laid before deavour fully to reimburse him- your committee, which are printself for all expenses, and to ac- ed; differing most widely in the quire a profit also, but it will be particulars, and in the total; that impossible for him to do so, when. of Mr. Payne Knight amounting to ever the disbursements have ex- 45,0001. and that of Mr. Hamilceeded the fair money price of ton to 60,800l. that which he has to dispose of. The only other sum mentioned

Your committee refer to Lord as a money price, is in the evi. Elgin's evidence for the large and dence of the Earl of Aberdeen, heavy charges which have at- who named 35,000l. as a sort of tended the formation of this col-, conjectural estinate of the whole, lection, and the placing of it without entering into particulars. in its present situation, which In addition to the instances of amount, from 1799, to January prices quoted in Mr. Payne 1803, to 62,4401. including Knight's evidence, the sums paid 23,2401. for the interest of money; for other celebrated marbles, deand according to a supplemental serve to be brought under the account, continued from 1803 to notice of the House. 1816, to no less a sum than The Townley collection, which 74,000l. including the same sum was purchased for the British for interest.

Museum in June 1805, for 20,0001. is frequently referred They are described as valuable in to in the examinations of the wit- point of remote antiquity, and nesses, with some variety of opi- curious in that respect, but of no nion as to its intrinsic value ; distinguished merit as specimens but it is to be observed of all the of sculpture, their style being principal sculptures in that col. what is usually called Etruscan, lection, that they were in excel- and older than the age of Philent condition with the surface dias. perfect ; and where injured, they The Marbles at Phigalia, in were generally well restored, and Arcadia, have lately been purperfectly adapted for the decora- chased for the Museum at the extion, and almost for the orna- pense of 15,000). increased by a mental furniture of a private very unfavourable exchange to house, as they were indeed dis- 19,0001. a sum which your composed by Mr. Townley in his life- mittee, after inspecting them, time.

venture to consider as more than In what proportion the state of equal to their value. mutilation in which the Elgin

It is true that an English genMarbles are left, and above all tleman, concerned in discovering the corrosion of much of the sur- them, was ready to give the same face by weather, reduce their value, sum; and therefore no sort of it is difficult precisely to ascer- censure can attach on those who tain; but it may unquestionably purchased them abroad for our be affirmed in the words of one of national gallery, without any posthe sculptors examined (who rates sible opportunity of viewing and these works in the highest class examining the sculpture, but of art) that “ the Townleyan knowing them only from the marbles being entire, are, in a sketches which were sent over, commercial point of view, the and the place where they were dug most valuable of the two,: but up, to be undoubted and authentic that the Elgin Marbles, as pos- remains of Greek artists of the sessing that matter which artists best time. most i equire, claim a higher con- When the first offer was made sideration.”

by the Earl of Elgin to Mr. Per. The Ægina marbles, which are ceval, of putting the public in also referred to, and were well possession of this collection, Mr. known to one of the members of Long, a member of your cumyour committee, who in mittee, was authorized by Mr. treaty to purchase them for the Perceval to acquaint Lord Elgin, British Museum, sold for 6,0001., that he was willing to propose to to the Prince Roval of Bavaria, Parliament to purchase it for which was less than the British 30,0001. provided Lord Elgin government had directed to be should make out, to the satisfacoffered, after a prior negociation tion of a committee of the House for obtaining them had failed; of Commons, that he had extheir real value however was sup- pended so much in acquiring and posed not to exceed 4000l., at transporting it. which Lusieri estimated them. Lord Elgin declined this pro

posal,

was

« PreviousContinue »