A series of six replicas of John Henning's miniature casts of the Parthenon Frieze and the Bassae Frieze. The designs show scenes from Greek mythology.
The sculptures decorated the Parthenon in Athens, which has a long and complex history. Built nearly 2,500 years ago as a temple dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena, it was for a thousand years the church of the Virgin Mary of the Athenians, then a mosque, and finally an archaeological ruin. Its exterior was lavishly decorated with sculptures as an ostentatious display of the city's power and wealth. This replica is an exact copy of the original designs, which represented a festival procession in honour of the Olympian gods, though the exact meaning of the frieze is still an unsolved mystery.
By 1800 only about half of the original sculptural decoration remained. Between 1801 and 1805 Lord Elgin, the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, of which Athens had been a part for some 350 years, removed about half of the remaining sculptures from the fallen ruins and from the building itself. Lord Elgin was passionate about ancient Greek art and transported the sculptures back to Britain. The arrival of the sculptures in London had a profound effect on the European public, regenerating interest in ancient Greek culture and influencing contemporary artistic trends. These sculptures, or 'Elgin Marbles' as they are sometimes called, were acquired from Lord Elgin by the British Museum in 1816, and have been admired here since- an interesting history that is reflected in this unique ornament.
This collection of miniatures was sculpted by John Henning (1771-1851) over a period of 12 years and are to scale one twentieth of the originals. Henning was born in Paisley but after a move to London in 1811, he saw the recently arrived Elgin Marbles, currently held within the collection of the British Museum, and persuaded Lord Elgin to let him copy them. These carvings are truly remarkable in their execution as they were actually taken from moulds that Henning fashioned in slate. Henning's original slate models were also obtained by the British Museum in 1938.
These exquisite sculptures symbolise a remarkable archaeological achievement and will add history and intrigue to any interior.
Watch a video about the Parthenon sculptures