London’s Victoria and Albert Museum willing to lend Eros head to Istanbul
The Sidamara sarcophagus is on display at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum. V&A curator says the museum is willing to lend the child head to Turkey.The Culture and Tourism Ministry has published a list of artifacts it wants to recover from museums in Germany, the United States, France, Denmark and Britain. One of the artifacts on the list was the marble head of Eros, which is now at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A).
The life-size head became detached from the third-century BC Sidamara sarcophagus and was brought to London in 1883. The sarcophagus, one of the finest from the ancient world, later went on display at the Archaeology Museum in Istanbul.
Speaking to The Art Newspaper, Paul Williamson, the V&A’s curator responsible for the sculpture, said the museum was willing to send the head back to Turkey on a long-term loan, but an agreement has not yet been reached on the conditions.
“Although the loan would be long-term [possibly for five years, and renewable], in practice, the head would probably remain in Istanbul permanently. It would be cemented or glued to the sarcophagus, using reversible materials. Technically, the head could be recalled by the V&A, but this would probably only be done if it was not being cared for properly,” Williamson said.
According to The Art Newspaper, the proposed loan poses two difficulties. First, Turkey would have to recognize the museum’s legal ownership of the head. Second, under Turkey’s laws, antiquities from Turkish soil cannot be exported. This applies even to those on loan from abroad.
The sarcophagus was discovered by the British archaeologist Charles Wilson in 1883 in the Central Anatolian province of Konya. He hoped to return later to retrieve the sarcophagus, which he reburied, but he took the head, which was more portable. The sarcophagus was rediscovered in 1898 and taken to Istanbul.