Elgin, Lord Thomas Bruce
Basic Biographical Information
The name of Lord Elgin (1766–1841), Scottish peer and British diplomat, 7th Earl of Elgin and 11th Earl of Kincardine, will forever be linked to the classical sculptures he removed from the Parthenon and Acropolis in Athens and to the cultural property controversy that his actions spawned. The fate of the “Elgin Marbles,” sold by Elgin to the British Museum in 1816, continues to spark discussion and debate. Those who believe the museum should retain the marbles view Elgin as the man who rescued them from likely vandalism and destruction. Proponents who seek the return of the marbles to Greece regard Elgin as a plunderer (Byron’s “worst, dull spoiler”) who abused his political authority to mutilate and cart off one of the world’s greatest cultural treasures.
In late 1798, after serving in diplomat postings to Vienna, Brussels, and Berlin, Elgin was named Ambassador Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the Sublime Porte of the Turkish Sultan at...
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