The British Museum and Ancient Rome with Alan Montgomery

The British Museum and Ancient Rome with Alan Montgomery


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Many of the most famous classical sculptures now housed in the British Museum were rediscovered in Italy and exported to Britain during the eighteenth century. This was a time when ancient Rome was generally held in high regard, admired as the greatest civilization that the world had ever known. Traveling to Rome on a 'Grand Tour' was a vital part of any British gentleman's education, and buying antiquities, particularly ancient Roman marble statues, as souvenirs were seen as the height of good taste and sophistication.

This conversation will look at some of the fascinating ancient objects collected by the Grand Tourists, explore the lives and times of the men (and one woman!) who collected them, and shed light on the complexities of the eighteenth-century trade in art and antiquities. It will also reveal the problems that such artifacts present to modern scholars of the ancient world. As we will discover, although they are undoubtedly beautiful, many of the supposedly 'Roman' sculptures bought by the Grand Tourists would turn out to be not quite what they seemed.

Led by art historian, antique expert, and Ph.D. scholar on the Roman ancient world, Alan Montgomery, this interactive discussion will delve into the collecting world. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with a better understanding of this intriguing subject.

Alan Montgomery was born and raised in Scotland but has spent most of his adult life in London. Having achieved an MA in Art History at Glasgow University, he worked for many years in the art world at both an international auction house and an antique dealer. In recent years he has returned to academia, achieving an MA in Classical Civilisation in 2011, and has recently completed a Ph.D. in which he analyzed eighteenth-century attitudes towards the ancient Roman world. In addition to his work for Context Travel, Alan also writes catalog essays on Contemporary Art for a leading auctioneer. Elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland in 2017, he has just started work on a book inspired by his Ph.D. research, which will be published by Edinburgh University Press in 2020.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.