1801: Removal of Sculptures from the Parthenon by Lord Elgin’s Men

Commented by: Eleonora Vratskidou

Dodwell/Pomardi’s watercolour is the only known image to record the operation of the removal of the marbles from the Parthenon by Lord Elgin’s team. The watercolour does not figure the discovery or collection of items on the ground (i.e. already fallen parts of the decoration of the temple), but captures rather the extraction of sculptures from the temple itself, a practice not explicitly authorised in the firman obtained from the Ottoman authorities, and remaining until today a major point of contestation of Elgin’s deeds in the debates around the Parthenon marbles. Dodwell was an eyewitness to the first phase of the British ambassador’s archaeological expedition in Greece and has also given a written account of the depicted event in his travelogue. In this regard, Dodwell/Pomardi’s watercolour is an ideal example with which to reflect on the relation between visual and written accounts of translocations.

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