Shelbourne Hotel statues of Egyptian and Nubian women return to their plinths after council probe
- 15 Dec 2020, 19:19
- Updated: 15 Dec 2020, 19:20
THE Shelbourne Hotel has re-installed four statues of Nubian and Egyptian women of back to their plinths.
The statues, which depicted the women holding torches, were removed in July after being identified as slaves.
The statues had stood outside the iconic Dublin hotel for over 150 years and depicted Nubian princesses from ancient Egypt.
However, they were removed by the hotel’s owners who cited the Black Lives Matter movement as they believed the statues depicted slaves.
The statues were reinstalled after thorough professional restoration work was carried out.
The restoration work was recommended in a special report on the statues made by Paula Murphy, an Irish sculpture expert.
The statues have been identified as Mathurin Moreau pieces that were sculpted in 1867 in Paris.
The issue was put under investigation by the Dublin City Council’s Planning Enforcement Section who said they were “not aware” that permission had been granted for the removal.
Several complaints were made to the council based on the fact that the front of the building was a protected structure, and the removal of the statues without council permission was a breach of planning permission.
The Irish Georgian Society also said it was not consulted about their removal.
The statues were re-installed after art historian Kyle Leyden said they do not depict slaves but rather Egyptian and Nubian women.
Leyden cited the original catalogue from which the building;s architect, John McCurdy, had ordered the statues from.
The catalogue, which was published in the late 1850s labels the four statues as Egyptian and Nubian women – not slaves.
However speaking upon the announcement of the statues’ reinstatement, Dr Ebun Joseph from the Institute of Black Studies in Dublin disagreed with this.
She told Newstalk Breakfast: “I want you to look at the position of servitude that those black bodies are in in front of a white opulent hotel.
“It came from an era where black bodies were romanticised, where black bodies were used to demonstrate that differentiation between groups.
“You have to look at the racial meaning, have the racial understanding between the groups and what it represents.
“What relationship did Ireland have with black bodies in the 1800s or 1900s?