Author Topic: Casting the Parthenon marbles  (Read 323 times)

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Offline Maik

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Casting the Parthenon marbles
« on: Tuesday, 10 December, 2019 @ 15:52:15 »
Elgin's casts of Parthenon marbles reveal details since lost from statues
Findings could shine fresh light on some of the most celebrated monuments in classical art

As the man who removed many of the Parthenon marbles in circumstances that are still disputed, Lord Elgin’s association with the famous sculptures remains controversial, to say the least.

But the British aristocrat’s work at the site in the early 19th century was not merely acquisitive. As well as taking away about half of the surviving sculptures before eventually selling them to the British Museum, Elgin also employed specialist craftsmen to create detailed plaster casts of many of the artworks that he left behind on the great Athens monument.

Now analysis of those casts has revealed details that have since been lost on the original sculptures, casting fresh light on an almost forgotten technique that could reveal further insights about some of the most celebrated monuments in classical art.

Research by Dr Emma Payne, a specialist in classics and archaeological conservation based at King’s College London, shows that in 1802, when Elgin’s men made their casts, the sculptures of the west frieze of the Parthenon were in markedly better condition than they are today.

By comparing the casts with present-day 3D scans of the west frieze – which was removed from the monument in 1993 and is now in the Acropolis Museum in Athens – she revealed features that are now lost, including the faces of some of the sculptures, and chisel marks showing they had intentionally been chipped away by Victorian-era vandals.

Payne also analysed a second set of casts, commissioned by the British Museum in 1872. She was able to show that more damage was caused in the intervening seven decades than in the 120 years that followed, meaning that a century of traffic pollution did less harm than Victorian vandals.