Four statues that were removed from the façade of Dublin’s Shelbourne Hotel are to be reinstalled after it has been confirmed that they do not depict slave women.
An art historian has said the statues depict “Egyptian and Nubian women” rather than what were believed to be two princesses and their slave girls, according to the Irish Times.
The statues were controversially removed in July by hotel management as statues linked to colonialism and slavery were toppled by Black Lives Matter protestors around the world. The owner of the hotel, US multinational property company Kennedy Wilson, has now told Dublin City Council it intends to return the statues to their plinths outside the hotel on St Stephen’s Green.
The bronze sculptures were commissioned by the hotel in 1867 and stood for more than 150 years before being taken down earlier this year.
The move prompted several complaints to the city council, revolving around the fact that the historic façade of the hotel is a protected structure and cannot be altered without prior planning permission.On July 26th, the council sent an enforcement letter giving hotel management four weeks to respond to the claims of an alleged planning breach.
An art historian from University College Dublin, Professor Paula Murphy, was commissioned by the hotel owner to examine the statues.
Prof Murphy, who is an expert on sculpture, concluded the statues were not depictions of slaves. No date for the reinstallation of the statues has been established, however, they will be restored after they have been cleaned along with a plaque explaining their background.
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