This week Sculpture Saturday takes us to Athens, Greece, the Parthenon and the Acropolis Museum to be precise, for a look at the Metopes of the Parthenon. A metope is a rectangular architectural element in a Doric frieze, the decorative band above the beam that rests on the capitals of columns on buildings of the Doric order. The frieze consists of alternating triglyphs and metopes. Metopes occupy the recessed spaces between triglyphs.
The most famous metopes are the 92 marble sculptures that were located on the Parthenon. They were carved in high relief on practically square Pentelic marble slabs 35 centimeters thick, 1.20 meters high and averaging 1.25 meters in width. The Parthenon metopes were sculpted between 447 BC and 438 BC. Because of variations in the quality of the work, it is believed several sculptors possibly working with Phidias created them.
Early Christians intentionally damaged most of the sculptures when the Parthenon was converted to a church. In 1687, the remaining metopes suffered additional damage. A Venetian mortar shell struck a Turkish ammunition dump in the building and the Parthenon was history, literally.
In 1801, Lord Elgin removed half of the metopes and five of the six caryatids from The Porch of the Maidens on the Erechtheion. They reside in the British Museum in London. Greece seeks their return. The Parthenon metopes that remain in Greece are located in the Acropolis Museum for preservation and restoration except for 14 metopes on the western side that remain in place.
I enjoyed viewing the Parthenon and the remaining metopes on a very educational walking tour of Athens and the acropolis in 2017.