British Museum's ancient Greek Meidias vase will be loaned to Athens—leaving London for the first time in 250 years

Meidias Hydria, Athenian red-figure hydria (water vase) signed by Meidias, about 420 BC, excavated in Italy © Trustees of the British Museum

The decision comes after the chairman of the UK institution reiterated his desire to reach an agreement with Greece over the Return of Parthenon Sculptures.

The British Museum has agreed to loan a significant Greek vase, the Meidias Hydria, to the Acropolis Museum in Athens. This decision coincides with efforts by George Osborne, the chairman of the British Museum, to negotiate a cooperative arrangement with Greece regarding the potential return of certain Parthenon Marbles.

Dating back to 420 BC, the Meidias Hydria is a painted water vase standing just over 50cm high. It is the masterpiece of the Meidias artist, named after his signature on the British Museum's pot. Adorned with mythological scenes, including depictions of Heracles, the god of strength, this vase holds historical significance.

Originally purchased in the 1760s by William Hamilton, the British envoy to Naples and an antiquarian, the vase is featured prominently in a Reynolds portrait of Hamilton, now housed at London's National Portrait Gallery. Acquired by the British Museum in 1772, the Meidias Hydria has been a regular display item, marking its first loan in 250 years.

The vase will be featured in the Acropolis Museum's exhibition titled "Meanings: Personifications and Allegories from Antiquity to Today," scheduled from December 4 to April 14, 2024. Notably, the Acropolis Museum houses the Parthenon Marbles, and any potential return of the British Museum's Marbles would be presented there.

Following its presentation in Athens, the Meidias Hydria will be displayed in Paris at the Musée du Louvre’s "Olympism: A Modern Invention, an Ancient Legacy" exhibition from April 24 to September 16, 2024.

A British Museum spokesperson emphasises that the Meidias Hydria loan is part of an ongoing partnership with Greek museums.

Copyright Greekcitytimes 2024