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The Parthenon Sculptures

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  • Posted December 30, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The Glory of Ancient Greece

    Though there remains considerable controversy surrounding the Parthenon sculptures, everyone concerned with the history of civilization should have the opportunity to see these incredible works of art. Searching for definitions of the collection the body of work can be best described historically as the following: 'The Parthenon Sculptures or Elgin Marbles (friezes, pediment sculptures, statue and column parts, a caryatid etc) were shipped from the Parthenon and other spots in Athens to the UK by the 7th Lord Elgin, the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1799-1803. The British government acquired the collection from Lord Elgin. The Parthenon Sculptures have been on permanent public display in the British Museum since 1817. So whether they belong in the British Museum housing (incomparably beautifully in the manner in which they are displayed for the public to view) or whether they belong to Greece and should be in fact returned in full is a political question. This book compiled and written with knowledgeable commentary by Dr Ian Jenkins, Senior Curator, Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities, British Museum concentrates on excellent photographs of the sculptures themselves and lets the beauty of the work speak for itself. The book is a generous size (10"X10"x1") allowing the photographs to be very large, underlining detail and the play of light and shadow that likely made them seem alive in the actual Parthenon. The sculptures include the free standing gods and goddesses, placed on majestic plinths for the museum exhibition, friezes that tell their story in an almost cinematic manner placed on the walls as they would have been in their original state, and isolated areas of the hall that hold a special atmosphere for the individual fragments - such as the head of a horse and the brilliant fragmented torso. Honoring the works are visually reconstructed concepts of how the pediments were in the original form, the metopes, and the columns that made the original Parthenon one of the most eloquently creative edifices ever built. No matter the political aspects of the correct home for these treasures, this book offers the reader a superb view of the beginnings of Western Civilization that still inspire writers, historians, and artists today. Grady Harp

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