« PreviousContinue »
With this view he engaged Sig- pected alteration, obtained, in the nor Lusieri, a painter of reputa- summer of 1801, access to the tion, who was then in the service Acropolis for general purposes, of the King of the Two Sicilies, with permission to draw, model, together with two architects, two and remove ; to which was added modellers, and a figure painter, a special licence to excavate in whom Mr. Hamilton (now Under a particular place. Lord Elgin Secretary of State) engaged at mentions in his evidence, that he Rome, and despatched with Lu was obliged to send from Athens sieri, in the summer of 1800, to Constantinople for leave to refrom Constantinople to Athens. move a house ; at the same time
They were employed there remarking, that, in point of fact, about nine months, from August all permissions issuing from the 1800 to May 180, without hav- Porte to any distant provinces, ing any sort of facility or accom are little better than authorities modation afforded to them : nor to make the best bargain that can was the Acropolis accessible to be made with the local magistrathem, even for the purpose of cies. The applications upon this taking drawings, except by the subject, passed in verbal converpayment of a large fee, which sations; but the warrants or ferwas exacted daily.
mauns were granted in writing, The oher five artists were addressed to the chief authorities withdrawn from Athens in Janu- resident at Athens, to whom they 1803, but Lusieri has continued were delivered, and in whose there ever since, excepting during hands they remained : so that the short period of our hostilities your Committee had no opportuwith the Ottoman Porte.
nity of learning from Lord Elgin During the year 1800, Egypt himself their exact tenor, or of was in the power of the French: ascertaining in what terms they and that sort of contempt and dis- noticed, or allowed, the displacing, like which has always character or carrying away of these Marbles. ized the Turkish government and But Dr. Hunt, who accompanied people in their behaviour towards Lord Elgin as chaplain to the emevery denomination of Christians, bassy, has preserved, and has now prevailed in full force.
in his possession, a translation of The success of the British arms the second fermaun, which exin Egypt, and the expected resti tended the powers of the first; tution of that province to the but as he had it not with him in Porte, wrought a wonderful and London, to produce before your instantaneous change in the dis committee, he stated the subposition of all ranks and descrip- stance, according to his recollections of people towards our na tion, which was, “That in order tion. Universal benevolence and to show their particular respect good-will appeared to take place to the ambassador of Great Briof suspicion and aversion. No- tain, the august ally of the Porte, , thing was refused which was ask with whom they were now and ed; and Lord Elgin availing him- had long been in the strictest alself of this favourable and unex liance, they gave to his Excel
lency and to his secretary, and who visited the Acropolis, temptthe artists employed by him, the ed the soldiers and other people most extensive permission to view, about the fortress to bring them draw, and model the ancient tem- down heads, legs, or arms, or ples of the Idols, and the sculp. whatever other pieces they could tures upon them, and to make carry off. excavations, and to take away A translation of the fermaun any stones that might appear in- itself has since been forwarded teresting to them." He stated by Dr. Hunt, which is printed in further, that no remonstrance the appendix. was at any time made, nor any II. Upon the second division, displeasure shown by the Turkish it must be premiserl, that antecegovernment, either at Constanti- dently to Lord Elgin's departuire nople or at Athens, against the for Constantirople, he communiexten-ive interpreation which cated his intentions of bringing was put upon this fermam ; and home casts and drawings from although the work of taking Athens, for the benefit and ail. down and removing, was going vancement of the fine arts in this on four months, and even years, county, in Mr. Pitt. Lord Grenanil was conducted in the puoet ville and Mr. Dunlas, suggesting public manier, numbers of native to them the propriety of considerTabourers, to the amount of some ing it as a national object, fit to hundreds, being frequently em be undertaken, and carried into plover, not the least obstruction eff'ct at the public expense : but
ever interposeil, the hill this recommendation was in Swallest uneasiness show after
10 digree encouragd. either at the granting of this second fer that time or afterwards.
Among the Greek popu It is evident, from a letter of lation and inhabitants of Athens, Lord Elgin to the Secretary of it occas oned no sort of dissatis- State, 13 January, 1803, that be faction ; but, as Mr. Ilamil on,, considered himself as having no an eye-witness, expresses it, so sort of claim for his disbursefar from exciting any unpleasant ments in the prosecution of these sensation, the people seemed to pursuits, though he stated, in the feel it as the leans of bringing sime despatch, the heavy expenses foreigners into their country, and in which they hnd involved him, of having money spent among so as to make it extreniely inconthem. The Turks showed a total venient for him to forego any of indifference and apatıy as to the the usual allowances to which pre:ervation of these remains, ambassadors at or her.courts were except when in a fit of wantin entitled. It cannot, therefore, be destruction, they sometimes car- doubteil, that he looked upon ried their disregard so far as to himself in this respect as acting do mischief by firing at them. in a character entirely distinct The numerous travellers and ad. from his official situation. But mirers of the arts committed whether the Governnient from greater waste, from a very lifier. whom he obtained periission did, ent motive; for many of those or could so consider him, is a
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.
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 Me
topes 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.
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 en
2 G 2