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Dublin: 10°C Saturday 27 February 2021

Shelbourne statues reinstated to front of hotel

The four bronze statues were removed after they were thought to be depictions of slaves.

Image: PA

THE SHELBOURNE HAS reinstated four statues previously removed from outside the Dublin city centre hotel earlier this year. 

The four bronze statues were cleaned up and restored to their plinths following a five-month absence. 

The statues – which were commonly understood to depict two Egyptian princesses and two Nubian slaves holding torches – were removed from outside the historic hotel on 27 July as the Black Lives Matter movement gathered momentum around the world.

Historian Kyle Leyden argued at the time that based on his research looking at the trade catalogues the statues were ordered from, the statues were not intended to represent slaves.

The lecturer in the history of art and architecture at the University of London said that manacles on the ankles of the statues were probably meant to be bangles, and that all four statues are wearing these bangles.

An ‘Egyptomania’ had been sweeping Europe in the early 19th Century, and these statues were ordered as part of that movement, Leyden added.

The first reference to the statues as being slaves came from a ‘novelesque’ depiction of the hotel: The Shelbourne by Elizabeth Bowen written in 1951.

037 Statue removed from Shelbourne Hotel

Owners Kennedy Wilson said the statues were reinstated last night following a report to “fully understand the provenance of the statues and place them within proper context”.

Professional restoration work was carried out on the four statues prior to reinstallation, as recommended in the expert report carried out by Paula Murphy, associate professor at University College Dublin. 

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Management added that all works were carried out in line with statutory consent received from Dublin City Council.  

The council said it will carry out an inspection at the premises in due course “to ensure that any reinstatement carried out is to the satisfaction of Dublin City Council”.

Opened in 1824, the Shelbourne has 265 bedrooms including 19 suites. Its rooms and facade underwent a multimillion-euro restoration that was completed in 2017. 

The five-star hotel is owned by US investment firm Kennedy Wilson, which acquired the property in 2014 for over $150 million. 

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Adam Daly

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