Mistress of the Elgin Marbles: A Biography of Mary Nisbet,

Mistress of the Elgin Marbles: A Biography of Mary Nisbet,

Mistress of the Elgin Marbles: A Biography of Mary Nisbet, Countess of Elgin [PDF] ✪ Mistress of the Elgin Marbles: A Biography of Mary Nisbet, Countess of Elgin Author Susan Nagel – Centrumpowypadkowe.co.uk The remarkable Mary Nisbet was the Countess of Elgin in Romantic era Scotland and the wife of the seventh Earl of Elgin When Mary accompanied her husband to diplomatic duty in Turkey she changed histo The remarkable Mary Nisbet was the Countess the Elgin PDF/EPUB ¿ of Elgin in Romantic era Scotland and the wife of the seventh Earl of Elgin When Mary accompanied her husband to diplomatic duty in Turkey she changed history She helped bring the smallpox vaccine to Mistress of PDF \ the Middle East struck a seemingly impossible deal with Napoleon and arranged the removal of famous marbles from the Parthenon But all of her accomplishments would be overshadowed however by her scandalous divorce Drawing from Mary's own letters scholar Susan Nagel tells Mary's of the Elgin ePUB ´ enthralling inspiring and suspenseful story in vibrant detail.

10 thoughts on “Mistress of the Elgin Marbles: A Biography of Mary Nisbet, Countess of Elgin

  1. Robin Robin says:

    There were some things that the author did very well in this book including painting a vivid portrait of the social vivaciousness of Mary Elgin illustrating the character of Lord Elgin and developing a solid story of a failing marriage But still this book left me wanting — about the marbles themselves about the legacy and relevance of the marbles today about Mary as a woman after her return to England I also found myself thinking that maybe Nagel's portrait of Mary was rather skewed toward the positive The verdict enjoyable but somehow not completely satisfying

  2. Kathleen Kathleen says:

    This biography of Mary Nisbet was so delightfully readable that I had to keep reminding myself it wasn't fictional I am grateful that this well spoken charismatic intrepid young heiress Scotswoman consistently engaged in copious amounts of correspondence which survived her Author Susan Nagel has successfully structured her book as to give the reader plenty of context for the circumstances under which Mary crossed paths with numerous notable personages Lord Nelson of Trafalgar fame Napoleon yes that one Selim III to name a fewThough it is with mixed feelings that I consider the wholesale acuisition of extensive Greek relics and architecture by her husband Lord Elgin and herself one can't help but wonder if they HADN'T done so would any of those priceless artifacts survived to present day I think notAnd as a final teaser not a spoiler the old saw to live well is the best revenge was exemplified in Mary's ultimately happy life with her soul mate She certainly deserved that hard won life

  3. Duntay Duntay says:

    Too much mistress not enough marbles

  4. Lizzie Lizzie says:

    Via the Bookperk email I totally am mainly interested in this based on all the reviews that are like Too much about her fascinating life and divorce and groundbreaking for women's legal rights Not enough about marblesOkay so I had to Wiki what the marbles are about but stillAnyway the deal was sealed by this fabulously incorrect line in Nisbet's own Wikipedia articleBruce divorced Nesbit in either 1807 or 1808 and went on to marry Robert Ferguson of Raith 1777–1846HA

  5. Cherise Wolas Cherise Wolas says:

    An interesting read about a woman greatly ahead of her time who also lived through many of the most major events in the 1700s and was directly involved in them It provides a real flavor of how life was lived by the richest at that time Mary Nisbet ultimately one of the largest landowners in Scotland lived a fascinating life Her marriage to Count Elgin their time abroad their marriage children her diplomatic feats is recounted here Much is taken from her personal letters and what letters were intended to do at that time fascinated me and so naturally there is a bias but she's charming and interesting and I learned a lot The ongoing historical issues surrounding the Elgin marbles and their potentially wrongful removal to England is barely touched on and in Count Elgin's defense he wanted to save these and other antiuities from destruction but it's an interesting look into the time and people at the top in that world

  6. Victoria Victoria says:

    I was really hoping to learn about the Elgin Marbles but really they were almost an aside It was wonderful to learn about Mary Nisbet but I find there's a bit of bias in the recount She's too perfectinnocent It's almost non human I'm wondering if the source material came from her side of the family?

  7. Penny Cipolone Penny Cipolone says:

    Interesting read about a woman who was clearly ahead of her time Whether you agree with the borrowing of the Elgin Marbles or not the story behind Lady Elgin Mary Nesbit and their removal to England is a fascinating story of how a woman can work behind the scenes and do much than she is given credit for Most of the book is about Mary's life than the Parthenon episodes It can be a slow read but sections are fascinating when viewed in the light of the rights of women in 18th and 19th century England Mary Nesbit has been pretty much forgotten by historians but as the largest land holder in Scotland for many years she deserves a place among the world's women who controlled their own destiny

  8. Jennifer Jennifer says:

    A little disappointing in that it was somewhat slanted in Mary's favor and didn't discuss the antiuities themselves as much as I had hoped However I learned a lot and am overall glad I read the book so around a 35To start with if it hadn’t been for the mention of the Elgin Marbles in the title I probably wouldn’t have added this to my reading list or sought it out Unfortunately there wasn’t nearly as much about the Elgin Marbles themselves as I had hoped although an appendix reproducing a letter to Mary Nisbet describing the progress of the Acropolis excavations was included That doesn’t mean I didn’t like the book and it does include some discussion of the Elgin Marbles but if you’re interested in art history go elsewhere Mary Nisbet started life as one of the richest heiresses in Scotland and married Thomas Bruce the Seventh Earl of Elgin and Eleventh Earl of Kincardine When Elgin was appointed ambassador extraordinaire to the Ottoman Empire Mary accompanied him to Turkey Along the way they began collecting amazing antiuities including the Gymnasiarch’s Throne where the judge of the original Olympic games sat While she was in Constantinople the sultan became besotted with her and she was the only Western women invited into Topkapi Palace and the Seraglio She was also one of the few to meet the Valida Sultana the sultan’s mother and the power behind the throneIn addition Mary helped introduce the smallpox vaccine to the Middle East She lived at the same time Edward Jenner perfected the smallpox vaccine and her mother in law knew Edward Jenner’s father Because of this relationship she was easily able to obtain the vaccine and had her young son and then her entire household vaccinated This was important because smallpox was epidemic in Constantinople Because smallpox was epidemic in Constantinople she saw how many Turkish children in the city suffered and was so moved that she arranged to import large uantities of the vaccine to inoculate them as well After early successes she expanded her efforts and ultimately shipped smallpox vaccines to Baghdad the Persian Gulf and even Bombay On one of their few vacations they visited Greece where Elgin had already sent artists to make sketches of the art and plaster casts of the sculptures On this trip which took place before the recovery of the Elgin Marbles he received permission to remove antiuities from Mycenae Corinth and Olympus Using her influence with the sultan Mary also got permission to remove the Elgin Marbles and even artifacts for Elgin Some people have speculated that it wasn’t just Mary’s charms that enabled her to obtain so many artifacts and that the Ottoman Empire which controlled Greece at the time was actually engaging in a form of psychological warfare the Ottoman Empire which controlled Greece at the time was giving permission for so many antiuities to be removed as a way of reminding the Greeks who was in power by giving third party foreigners – the British and the French – carte blanche to destroy their cultural heritage This was an angle I had not considered before and I found it interesting to speculate on how much the removal andor destruction of so many other antiuities was prompted by similar motives especially the recent demolition campaign by ISISThere was some interesting information included about the Elgin Marbles in particular and the Parthenon in general One thing I didn’t realize was that the Parthenon had been a target for centuries In the fourth century the Visigoths sacked Athens before proceeding to Rome and heavily damaged it In the fifth century a group of Christians gutted the east end to convert it into a church and in the mid 1400’s invading Turks converted the church into a mosue They used the remainder of the site as a powder magazine and when a Venetian shell hit the magazine most of the Acropolis exploded A year later the Danes got involved and started removing the heads from some of the metopes and the structure sustained even damage well before the Elgins got there This turbulent history would suggest there might have been something to the arguments from Elgin’s supporters who said the only way to preserve the marbles was to remove them from the site and send them to BritainI also didn’t realize that the Elgins’ activities were controversial almost from the moment they began Several contemporaries were appalled at the extent of what the Elgins were taking Nicholas Biddle an American statesman and financier was so disgusted that when a ship loaded with Greek marbles went down at sea he wished Elgin would have gone down with it the marbles were subseuently recovered by divers soon after the accident Lord Byron denounced Elgin as a “vandal” and then published “The Curse of Minerva” in further protest Other opponents not listed in the book included Sir John Newport the Chancellor of the Excheuer of Ireland who complained The Honourable Lord has taken advantage of the most unjustifiable means and has committed the most flagrant pillages” and Edward Daniel Clarke who witnessed the removal of some of the metopes called it a “spoliation” He added that “the form of the temple has sustained a greater injury than it had already experienced from the Venetian artillery Indeed the Parthenon was permanently damaged from their removal On the other hand Elgin believed he was rescuing the artwork from neglect and any further damage and was providing a service to the world especially artists and educators Some of his contemporaries agreed that the only way to save the marbles was to send them to Britain Parliament also came down on Elgin’s side concluding that the marbles were deserving of “asylum” under a “free government”The book also gave some interesting insights into both British and Turkish societies especially the way they treated women Contrary to popular belief the Ottoman Empire was in many respects less sexist than its British counterpart “Turkish women often received uite better treatment than their European counterparts They were entitled to inherit half of what any man could and that created significant female controlled wealthContrary to English law at the time when a woman married her property did not automatically become her husband’s” page 109 In divorce cases a Turkish woman retained custody of any daughters while any sons went with the husband; under English law the custody of all children automatically went to the husband I’m not sure how much Mary Nisbet knew about the Ottoman laws but if she had that knowledge surely would have haunted her later in life The trouble began when after a string of difficult pregnancies all with surviving children Mary decided she didn’t want to have any children However Elgin wanted a dynasty and the only son to survive to adulthood was sickly and suffered from seizures caused by mercury poisoning All of the other children were daughters The only forms of birth control at the time were dependent on male initiative and the impasse led to a sexless marriage It didn’t help that Mary was also involved in an affair with one of Elgin’s best friends who had agreed to use birth control and when Elgin found out he initiated what became an acrimonious high profile divorce case Ultimately the divorce went through and while Mary managed to keep her fortune which was unusual for the time she lost custody of all her childrenBritain did not start changing its laws until 1839 when the Custody of Infants Act was passed This law gave women who were going to live apart from their husbands the right to apply for custody of their own children as long as those children were under the age of seven And it wasn’t until 1882 that the Married Women’s Property Law was passed in the United States similar laws were enacted much earlier which gave women legal authority over any property they had brought to the marriage Another thing I liked was the detailed “Chronology” section which helped provide a broader historical context to the events of Mary Nisbet’s life; it includes not only political events but also artistic and literary events eg Jane Austen was a contemporary and wrote and published both Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility during Mary’s lifetime and the first public performance of Beethoven’s Eroica was also in the same time frameOne final note Elgin is pronounced with a hard g Good to know

  9. Katrina Katrina says:

    Nagel paints a fascinating image of Mary Nisbet Many facets of Mary's life are intriguing her wild success as an ambassador's wife; her mastery of the art of letter writing; her benevolence as a land owner and land lord; her early advocacy for vaccinations; her interactions with Napoleon and succes in procuring the release of her husband imprisoned by the tyrant; finally her failed marriage and estrangement from her children both which were allegedly due to Lord Elgin Reading this biography makes the reader think Mary is a saint and a martyr However the title and cover art lead the reader to expect a discussion of the Marbles as well not just of Mary Nisbet Not only is the amount of time spent on this aspect disappointing but the coverage is unfortunately severely biased At least Nagel could have presented simply the facts and allowed the reader to decide for himherself if the Elgins were rescuers or plunderers Mary is described as traveling the world rescuing its treasures from neglect yet Nagel at best glosses over and often fails to mention the irreparable damage done to the antiuities for starters some were shattered while being extracted; some were lost forever when one of her ships sunk enroute to England; the Marbles were left to rot behind Lord Elgin's house in the damp climate of Enland while waiting to be purchased; the British Museum damaged the Marbles while cleaning them with harsh chemicals It is hard to know for sure if neglect by the Greeks the Venetians the Christians or the Turks was truly any worse or to argue if the Marbles would be in a better or worse state had they been left in Athens It is impossible to change history and see what might have beenKnowing the extremely biased and one sided nature of Nagel's presentation of the Marbles' issue it is hard to trust her presentation of all the aforementioned fascinating aspects of Mary Nisbet

  10. Beth Beth says:

    great biographyever wonder what life was like in 1800 as a super rich British young woman married to a politician? Me either but I sure know now Well worth reading and learning about historical 'STUFF

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