Elgin Marbles, a collection of ancient sculptures chiefly taken from the Parthenon at Athens, now deposited in the British museum. They derive their name from the earl of Elgin. (See Elgin, Earl of.) The sculptures on the Parthenon consisted of three kinds: the colossal statues on the tympana of the pediments, the metopes, and the frieze around the cella. Of the first, the Elgin collection contains statues or fragments of statues from both pediments, those from the eastern, on which was represented the birth of Minerva, being the best preserved, while those representing the contest of Neptune and Minerva for the possession of Attica are chiefly torsos and fragments, procured by excavation. Of the 92 metopes, it contains 15 from the S. side of the building, representing in high relief the combats of the Centaurs and Lapitha3, and a cast from another now in the Louvre. The slabs from the frieze of the cella, representing in low relief the great Panathenaic procession, are the most numerous and the best preserved of all the specimens in the collection.
In addi- . tion to these, Lord Elgin procured from the ruins about the Athenian Acropolis the colossal statue of Bacchus from the choragic monument of Thrasyllus, one of the caryatides from the temple of Pandrosus, a portion of the frieze from the Erechtheum, and fragments of the columns of the Parthenon and Erechtheum; numerous inscriptions, including that commemorating the Athenians who fell at Poti-daea; and urns, etc, taken from various parts of Athens and its neighborhood. The sculptures executed by Phidias, as has been generally supposed, or under his direction, exhibit the highest development of Greek art. As types of beauty they have never been surpassed, and even in their present fragmentary condition they afford models of form which modern art has not been able to equal. Under their influence a national school of sculpture has been established in England. A paper in "Blackwood's Magazine" for December, 1873, by W. W. Story, controverts the opinion that Phidias was the sculptor of the Parthenon marbles.