LAWRENCE, Richard.

Elgin Marbles.

From the Parthenon at Athens: Exemplified by Fifty Etchings, Selected from the Most Beautiful and Least Mutilated Specimens in that Collections; and Accompanied with Explanatory and Critical Remarks on the Style, Composition, and Peculiar Excellence of those Transcendent Relics of Grecian Sculpture.

London: Printed by Thomas Davison, 1818 Stock Code: 146344
£2,750.00
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In the original boards

First edition of this representation of the famous Elgin collection of Greek sculptures, controversially removed from the Parthenon at the beginning of the 19th century. This is uncommonly found in the original boards.

While he was British ambassador at Constantinople from 1801 to 1803, Thomas Bruce, the Earl of Elgin, had received permission to remove the Parthenon sculptures which were displayed in London in 1807. The marbles were bought by the British Government in 1816 and installed in the British Museum. This prompted sharp debate, firstly on whether the Government would be condoning plunder or saving the works from neglect, and secondly on the aesthetic merits of the works themselves, which the author did not shy away from mentioning here, although - or perhaps because - this work is dedicated to King George IV. "Some difference of opinion has existed in regard to the propriety of that transaction, but it is perfectly unnecessary for the Author of this work to enter on a vindication of his lordship's conduct on that occasion. Every true friend of the fine arts, who is desirous that his native country should excel in that noble pursuit of the human mind, will hail the day when Lord Elgin first conceived the intention of transporting those wondrous relics for happier climes, where they have not only found a refuge from barbarian hands, but are brought within the view of thousands who are thus enabled to appreciate their superlative excellence, and who, but for their removal to this country, would never have enjoyed such an exalted gratification" (p. 25).

John Keats, who was among those who saw them privately exhibited, was inspired to write his "On Seeing the Elgin Marbles," and Lord Byron expressed his objection to their removal from Greece in Childe Harold's Pilgrimage: "Dull is the eye that will not weep to see, Thy walls defaced, thy mouldering shrines removed, By British hands, which it had best behoved, To guard those relics ne'er to be restored," published the same year at this work.

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Description

Oblong quarto. Original brown boards, titles printed in black to paper label on front board, untrimmed.

Illustrations

50 etched plates designed and engraved by the author.

Condition

Neat ink ownership from subscriber "J. Drake - 1818" to front free endpaper. Sometime expertly rebacked to style, light wear to extremities, front free endpaper creased, else internally clean and fresh; a very good copy indeed.

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