William Sterling

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Collectors and the British Museum

May 12 @ 11:00 am - 5:00 pm

William Hamilton, Charles Townley and Lord Elgin were great collectors of ancient artefacts and by donating their collections to the British Museum influenced Neo-Classical culture.

How the great collectors of objects from the Ancient World sold or donated their collections to the British Museum.

We will cover the lives of Hamilton, Townley, Elgin and others, their experiences of the Grand Tour and their stay in Italy and Greece. Hamilton was British Ambassador to Naples for 36 years at the end of the Eighteenth Century and helped secure British support for the king against Napoleon. He is perhaps best known for being married to Nelson’s mistress Lady Hamilton but was a great collector especially of Greek vases, many of which he sold to the British Museum but he was also responsible for bringing the Portland Vase to England. Townley made three grand tours and collected many rare sculptures including the famous Discobolos which has epitomised the Olympic Games to many people today. Elgin was British Ambassador to Turkey from 1799 to 1803 at a crucial time during the war against France and persuaded the Turks to allow him to remove some of the beautiful Parthenon sculptures which ended up in the Museum.


May 12
11:00 am - 5:00 pm


City Lit


City Lit and British Museum
Keeley Street and Great Russell Street
London, United Kingdom
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